New York law classifies the possession of a fake driver’s license or any other form of official ID as a form of forgery. It is illegal to own / possess any written instrument that has been unlawfully created, completed, or altered, and offenders are usually charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree or third degree. In the case of a forged driver’s license, additional penalties apply under Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 392.
Under NY PL 170.25, a person is guilty of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree if they knowingly possess a forged version of any written instrument officially issued or created by a public office, public servant or governmental instrumentality, and have a deliberate intent to defraud. It is a class D felony punishable by up to 7 years in prison. Alternately, a defendant may be charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument in the third degree when they possess a forged instrument such as a fake driver’s license or ID and intend to use it to defraud, deceive, or injure another person. Criminal possession of a forged instrument in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 392-a makes it illegal to buy or sell a driver’s license or ID card that is fake, fraudulent, or stolen. A first offense is a misdemeanor while a second, committed within five years, is a felony. Possessing a forged license or using someone else’s license is illegal (although not criminal) under Section 509(6) and punishable by a fine of up to $300 and / or a year in jail.
When is the best time to act?:
Being charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second or third degree can result in prison time and / or heavy fines. New York law also gives the Vehicle and Traffic Law broad discretion in punishing offenses involving driver’s licenses, and at the very least a person can have their license suspended or revoked for violating the Law. Anyone caught possessing a fake driver’s license or other form of identification requires expert advice from a New York criminal defense attorney right away.
High profile/Government cases:
In January 2012 Clarence Jenkins, 56, a clerk at the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles was indicted for illegally processing New York driver licenses applications for three people, including one deported felon who illegally returned to the country. Jenkins had accepted forged Puerto Rico driver licenses, knowing that they were forgeries. He was charged with Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, Issuing a False Certificate, and Official Misconduct.
Criminal possession of stolen property, forgery, grand larceny, identity theft, issuing a false certificate, offering false instrument for filing
Mental disease / defect, false accusation, and proven lack of intent to knowingly commit an illegal act can all be presented as defenses.
Difference between New York state and Federal statutes:
Under, 18 U.S. Code § 1028, possession or transfer of a false identification document such as a driver’s license or other form of government-issued identification is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in a federal prison, or a fine, or both.