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Fake Identification Documents

Federal Fake Identification Defense Lawyer

18 U.S.C. § 1028 – Fraudulent activity involving identification documents and authentication features

18 U.S.C. § 1028 contains the federal prohibition on the possession, use, production, and transfer of false identification documents and authentication features.  The United States Attorney's Office's Criminal Resource Manual, available online, identifies several categories of behavior which constitute violations of §1028.

In federal identity theft cases, the feds will normally start an investigation in situations where someone is taking substantial dollar amounts or were using numerous identifications to commit the crime. In simple language, this type of federal crime involves stealing another person's information in order to commit an offense to obtain goods or services.

This type of federal crime has increased substantially and the government is well aware of this theft epidemic and is aggressively pursuing prosecution. In short, it occurs when you use another person's identifying information, Social Security number, without your permission to commit fraud.

Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act to deal with this issue. They amended 18 U.S.C. § 1028 to make it a federal offense when someone  knowingly transfers or uses a means of identification of another individual with the intent to commit any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law.

As you can see, the statute is comprehensive in its treatment of false identification document conduct.  The mere possession of a stolen U.S. identification document, such as a passport, could constitute a violation.  As you will note in the following section on Penalties, much more severe conduct, such as utilizing false identification documents in the commission of terrorist acts, is also covered by 18 U.S.C. § 1028.

Legal Penalties for Fake Identification

18 U.S.C. § 1028(b) details the possible punishments for fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents, authentication features, and information.

In most cases, a conviction will carry a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment, a fine and forfeiture of any  property used to commit the crime. Prosecutors can make the charges more severe, especially if the identity theft occurs with another felony. In cases where the other felony offense carries a more severe sentence, the more severe case will be used. Schemes to commit Identity theft or fraud could potentially violate other federal statutes such as credit card fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, or social security fraud. Each one of these federal crimes is a felony with significant penalties.

Two final notes: Asset forfeiture may result from a conviction for any of the conduct described in this section.  If the violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028(a) involves conduct not covered by any of the categories described in this section, the maximum penalty is one year of incarceration, a fine, or both.

Defenses for Fake Identification

  • Lack of federal jurisdiction – §1028 prohibits false ID-related conduct that involves a United States identification document or document-making implement, the intent to defraud interstate commerce, or the transportation in the U.S. mail of the identification documents. Accordingly, much, if not most, fake-ID conduct will not give rise to federal jurisdiction. For example, a person under 21 producing a fake California driver's license and attempting to get into a bar would likely qualify as a state crime, but would not be a federal crime under §1028.
  • Lack of intent – Depending on which subsection you are accused of violating, your attorney may be able to prove that you did not have the requisite intent to violate §1028. For example, if you are accused of intending to defraud the United States through your possession of a false identification document, you may be able to present evidence that you did not have fraudulent intent.

Call a Federal Criminal Attorney for help

Violations of 18 U.S.C. 1028 are complex and fact-specific.  If you, or someone you know, is being investigated or charged with this federal crime, call our experienced federal criminal defense lawyers for a phone consultation.

Were you arrested for fake ID allegations? Contact us now!

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