Unlawful Use of Identification Cards is a serious traffic offense under California Vehicle Code 13004 VC. The section incorporates a variety of offenses under this heading that include possession, use or displaying of a canceled, fictitious, or fraudulently obtained or altered identification card, knowingly allowing another person to use your identification card or allowing its use for an illegal purpose, using another person’s card as if it was your card, altering a card or duplicating, photographing or in any way creating a duplicate card in such a manner that it can be mistaken for a real one.
Examples of how this law is violated are many and varied. Common situations in which the offense is committed include presenting an altered identification card for any illegal purpose such as avoiding payment to get into a sporting event, altering a card by changing the numbers in the birthdate for the purpose of getting into a bar or purchasing alcohol in a store, allowing the use of your card by a friend to pass him or herself off as older, using a fraudulent or another person’s card to cash a check or to conceal your identity to avoid arrest, hide the fact of being an undocumented alien or for any other illegal purpose. It should be noted the law doesn’t specify that this offense applies only to California issued identification cards.
Those charged with Unlawful Use of Identification Cards need a good defense attorney to not only explain the legal particulars of the offense but to also explore the facts of the case to obtain the best possible defense. It should be noted that, in general, the intent to break the law must be proven by the prosecutor in order to obtain a conviction in court. If you didn’t knowingly intend to break the law you should be found not guilty. Intent is the sticking point in many cases. Often the actions you took are used to establish intent and if you didn’t know these actions were illegal, you should have known. The court system is aware that in borderline cases a person really didn’t know what he or she did was illegal. The court will look at the facts and hopefully the lack of a criminal history to base its conviction or acquittal on.
Skilled defense attorneys explore various defense strategies on a case by case basis. If you didn’t know it was illegal to allow a relative to use your identification card to purchase alcohol on your behalf, there was no intent to do anything wrong on your part and you should technically be acquitted of the offense. Should you be charged with allowing someone to use your card and had no knowledge it was happening, you should be found not guilty. If you thought copying your identification card to prove your identity when opening a bank account, you are technically innocent. The defense attorney will be able to identify any legitimate defense you have.
If you are guilty of the crime there are still solid defenses an experienced attorney can use on your behalf. One of the more common involves the way the police conducted the investigation or obtained evidence. One possible scenario of police misconduct is that you were found to be in possession of an altered identification card with the birthday changed. The police arrest you and back at the interview room you provided a statement indicating your guilt. However, since you were under arrest and your Miranda Rights weren’t explained to you, any statement you made is not admissible in court. Another similar example is when your car was searched illegally on a traffic stop and the card was found during the search. The evidence in this case wouldn’t be admissible duo to its being obtained illegally.
Unlawful Use of Identification Cards is a misdemeanor in California and is punishable by a maximum jail sentence of six months and a $1,000.00 maximum fine. Depending on your criminal history you will likely be sentenced to informal probation for a period of one to five years with any additional conditions deemed necessary by the court. If you have a substantial criminal history you will probably receive a jail term and a fine.
You should always secure the services of an experienced attorney when charged with Unlawful Use of Identification Cards. Going into a court room without an attorney is usually a mistake since you won’t have a grasp of court room rules and procedures or be able to avail yourself of a legitimate defense. Always employ the services of a good attorney.