Over the past 15 years, there has been a rise in underage drinking enforcement, meaning more arrests and citations in the City of Austin as well as Travis County. But not all Fictitious or Fake ID or false license cases are equal. Offenses involving False ID can range from a Class C Misdemeanor all the way to a Felony.
Possession of Fictitious License is a little misleading -- "Fictitious" meaning not truly belonging to the person possessing it, rather than an outright forgery. The actual license or ID in question is very important in determining the proper charge, and determining the best possible defenses.
If you'd like to talk in detail about your situation, or if you have questions, contact us for a Free Case Consultation. Keep in mind, Keates Law Firm only practices in Austin and Travis County.
Possession of Fictitious License is very closely related to several other offenses, and is sometimes included under the umbrella of Underage Drinking cases.
If you're looking for information on Misrepresentation of Age or Underage Drinking offenses, you can see more related legal offenses and topics below.
When referring to the use of a Fictitious or Fake ID or License, there are four main statutes that can be used in Texas:
The majority of Fictitious or Fake ID cases in Austin, Travis County, fall under the Class C "Misrepresentation of Age" offense. That's where a person under 21 years of age attempts to use a Fictitious or Fake ID to enter a bar or buy alcohol. An underage person might hand a fake ID to a doorman, cashier, or bartender.
For more info, read our Misrepresentation of Age page.
Texas Transportation Code Sect. 521.451 controls the Fake ID laws, which states that a person may not "display, cause or permit to be displayed, or have in the person"s possession" a license that the person knows to be fake or altered. Possession of a Fictitious or Fake ID under 521.451 is a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by between 0-365 days in the County Jail, and by fines up to $4,000.
So what about all the college kids who get cited for using a friend's ID at a bar? Is that really a Class A Misdemeanor? It used to be, until Transportation Code Sect. 521.451(5)(c) fixed it. Now, that situation if the person"s conduct ALSO constitutes Misrepresentation of Age, then the offense can ONLY be Misrepresentaiton of Age. A problem arises if the ID is found BEFORE getting to the bar -- meaning mere possession without use, could result in a Class A arrest rather than a Class C citation.
Specifically, Texas Transportation Code 521.451(c) states "If conduct that constitutes an offense [of Fictitious ID] also constitutes an offense under Section 106.07, Alcoholic Beverage Code, the actor may be prosecuted only under Section 106.07, Alcoholic Beverage Code."
Sec. 521.451. GENERAL VIOLATION. (a) Except as provided by Section 521.452, a person may not:
(1) display, cause or permit to be displayed, or have in the person's possession a driver's license or certificate that the person knows is fictitious or has been altered;
(2) lend the person's driver's license or certificate to another person or knowingly permit another person to use the person's driver's license or certificate;
(3) display or represent as the person's own a driver's license or certificate not issued to the person;
(4) possess more than one currently valid driver's license or more than one currently valid certificate; or
(5) in an application for an original, renewal, or duplicate driver's license or certificate: (A) provide a false name, false address, or a counterfeit document; or (B) knowingly make a false statement, conceal a material fact, or otherwise commit fraud.
A Fictitious Driver's License offense occurs when a person, with the intent to represent that they are over 21, has a Fictitious or Fake ID that's "deceptively similar" to an actual driver's license or ID card. The test is whether "a reasonable person would assume that it was issued by the [government]." So it really depends on the ID or license.
Luckily, a Fictitious Driver's License is also a Class C misdemeanor. This offense is also extremely rare in Austin or Travis County, since officers will usually just cite Misrepresentation of Age.
FICTITIOUS LICENSE OR CERTIFICATE. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (f), a person under the age of 21 years commits an offense if the person possesses, with the intent to represent that the person is 21 years of age or older, a document that is deceptively similar to a driver's license or a personal identification certificate unless the document displays the statement "NOT A GOVERNMENT DOCUMENT" diagonally printed clearly and indelibly on both the front and back of the document in solid red capital letters at least one-fourth inch in height.
Now for the serious offense, Tampering with a Government Record. Texas Penal Code 37.10 deals with Tampering with a Governmental Record. In summary, Tampering with a Government Record is when a person alters a Government document to the degree that information is changed. It's more technical than that, but an example would be a real Driver's License where the birthdate year has been scratched off, with a new year typed over it, and laminated. Caselaw has clarified that the ID or license in question must actually be a "government issued document" and not a complete forgery (Thompson v. State, 215 S.W.3d 557).
The punishment ranges from a Class C Misdemeanor to a 2nd Degree Felony, although it's typically charged as a Third Degree Felony.
Hiring the right attorney from the beginning is important. Poor legal decisions will have a negative effect upon the case as it progresses. The Keates Law Firm has over 16+ Years Experience handling Fake ID cases. Our focus is to try and have the case dismissed against you. We don't even discuss pleas until all legal and negotiation options have been explored in detail.
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If charged with Fictitious or Fake IDs, then you're facing a Class A Misdemeanor, which means you'll need to secure bond or be bonded out of jail.
In Austin, it's unlikely you'll be taken to jail. Instead, an officer will probably issue a Cite and Release, which means you will need to complete a walkthrough prior to getting an actual court setting.
If a Fictitious License offense does lead to arrest, Keates Law Firm can act quickly to assist with a personal bond to release that person. Be sure to read more about Bond, Personal Bonds, and Travis County Jail Releases.
Your goal should be Dismissal for any Fictitious License charge. A Dismissal will allow a person to later seek an Expunction of a Criminal Record, which is where a Judge Orders the offense records destroyed, including police reports, court records, and prosecutor files.
Keates Law Firm has a track record of dismissals for Fictitious License. A lot of our representation on Fictitious License cases result in negotiated dismissals, where there's usually a trade-off of community service and a class in exchange for a dismissal -- but not always. The main hurdle is convincing the prosecutor to agree to dismiss the case, and Keates Law Firm has experience in Austin's Travis County courts doing just that.
Legal Fees are typically unexpected, so Keates Law Firm realizes that most people don't have thousands of dollars immediatly available after an unexpected arrest. Keates Law Firm offers no interest Payment Plans for legal fees for cases in Austin, Travis County. Most Payment Plans require a credit or debit card on file, with a deposit for representation. Attorney Payment Plans are paid monthly with no interest. Payment Plan Lawyers in Austin, Travis County are few, but Keates Law Firm has had success and many happy clients who appreciate spreading out legal fees over payments. Check out our Austin Attorney Payment Plans page for more details, or call for a Free Consultation.
The Keates Law Firm has over 16+ Years Experience handling criminal defense cases. Our focus is to try and have the case dismissed against you. We don't even discuss pleas until all legal and negotiation options have been explored in detail.
Our Results Speak for Themselves. Keates Law Firm has a record of dismissals and acquittals in a variety of criminal cases. We are dismissal focused, and we get results.
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