When mentioning False Identification to Law Enforcement, I am not meaning the routine situation in Centre County involving an underage person possessing a fake ID that is being used to buy alcohol. While such offenses are routinely filed by the State College police as Penn State students and their friends try to use the fake IDs to enter a bar, I am actually referring to an offense that is based upon a person lying to police about their identity.
Aside from the possession of a fake ID card cases, the State College police are also often faced with underage drinking suspects that lie about their name or date of birth. A routine situation involves a State College officer that stops an underage drinker, requests identification, and, after the underage suspect states that he doesn't have a license, the underager then provides an incorrect name and incorrect date of birth. The underage suspect hopes that they can provide the officer with a date of birth that makes them over 21 so that the officer will simply let them go. The problem is that the officer attempts to verify the information by contacting dispatch, and, after the info is not confirmed, the officer knows that his underage suspect is lying. At that point, the officer is supposed to inform the suspect that he is the subject of a police investigation and that the continuation of providing false identifying information is a crime. The offense of False Identification to Law Enforcement is a misdemeanor offense.
Fake ID To Law Enforcement Charge Requires Proper Notice
The False Identification to Law Enforcement charge requires the officer to either be in uniform or identify himself as an officer, and the officer must inform the suspect that he is the subject of an official investigation for a violation of the law. A few years ago, I had a case in which I represented a student charged by Penn State police with False Identification to Law Enforcement. In the case, the underage client passed out in a Penn State dorm, was awoken by the police, and was then transported to the emergency room for observation. First thing the next morning, two Penn State officers went to the ER, confronted the underage client, and told him that he could not leave until he identified himself. The client lied about his name, and the officer then told him that he could get into more trouble if he didn't provide correct identifying information. After the client failed to provide his correct information, the Penn State police filed a misdemeanor offense of False Identification to Law Enforcement with the State College Court.
I filed a Motion to Dismiss the False Identification to Law Enforcement charge with the Centre County Court and argued that the officer had failed to inform my client that he was the subject of an official police investigation. My argument was that the officer had failed to fulfill his duty to inform as required by the False Identification to Law Enforcement law, so the charge must be dismissed. The Centre County judge agreed and dismissed the charge.
While I was able to obtain a favorable result for this client, I do not recommend lying to the police, but I also do not recommend talking to the police unless you have talked to an experienced State College criminal defense attorney first. Remember, anything that you say to the police can and will be used against you.