Carrying a False Identification Card in Pennsylvania

Many Penn State students and visiting friends are caught using fake IDs to get into bars or when trying to buy alcohol.  Bouncers at bars routinely call the police when they are given fake IDs.  Police officers have generally abandoned the “Cops in Shops” approach and instead wait outside State College six-pack shops or liquor stores to stop underagers after they purchased alcohol.

In most of these situations, the person is charged with a summary offense of Carrying a False Identification Card under 18 Pa.C.S. 6310.3.  The maximum sentence permitted by law is a $300.00 fine and up to 90 days in jail.  The normal punishment for a conviction is payment of fines and costs, and it is very rare that a judge imposes any jail time.

Impact on Jobs

However, a conviction could make it more difficult to obtain a job in the future.  There is a misconception that summary convictions do not appear on background searches. Summary convictions CAN and often do appear on background searches.

A fake ID charge is considered a crimen falsi offense, meaning it is s crime involving dishonesty, which places this charge in the same category as forgery and theft.  Employers because employers do not want to hire thieves or dishonest people, so the fake ID charge is viewed more negatively than convictions of other summary offenses like Underage Drinking.  So, while the grading of the charge is not overly severe, a conviction of Carrying a False Identification card could have a greater impact on a person’s ability to get a job in the future.

First Time Offender Program

Many judges use first time offender programs, legally referred to as pre-adjudicative disposition or probation without verdict types of programs in relatively minor cases like Carrying a Fake ID, Underage Drinking, and Public Drunkenness.  With such resolutions, the person pleads not guilty but agrees to accept a punishment.  There is no conviction or guilty verdict.  By completing the punishment, which often includes payment of court costs, community service, and possibly completion of rehabilitative classes or programs, the judge will dismiss the charge.

In Pennsylvania, a dismissed charge remains on the records.  The records should be moved to limited access, meaning the records should not be publicly accessible in the future.  They would be accessible by courts, prosecutors, and police, and thereby could be considered by those groups if the person got into trouble again.  The dismissed charge is also immediately eligible to be expunged.  An expungement means that the records are destroyed.  An expungement is better than limited access because having no records of an incident is better than having such records exist.  In order to have the records destroyed, a person must file an expungement petition and go through the Pennsylvania expungement process.