Charged with Possession of a Forged Instrument in Auburn: Everything You Should Know

If you’ve been to Auburn’s collegiate bars at night, it’s likely that you’ve seen someone denied entry because they were caught using a fake ID. And, while being denied entry to a bar is certainly embarrassing, the legal ramifications that come with the possession or use of false identification are no laughing matter and can have long term effects on a student’s academic and professional career.  If you are caught with a fake ID you are in serious trouble. (See long term consequences below).

What is a Fake ID?

In Alabama, it is against the law for a person to present false, forged, or non-genuine identification in an attempt to obtain alcoholic beverages. Essentially, there are two types of false Identification: one which is entirely forged and created with the purpose to defraud, or a genuine, real Alabama ID simply used by an individual other than the one represented on the card. If you are caught with the first type of false ID, you will likely be charged with the criminal possession of a forged instrument, depending on the circumstances, either a felony or misdemeanor.

Section § 13A-9-3 of the Code of Alabama describes a forged instrument as,

“(a) a written instrument which is or purports to be… (3) A written instrument officially issued or created by public office, public employees, or government agency.”

This section clearly includes fake ID’s in its terms, and lists the penalty for the creation of such an instrument as a class C felony. However, in Auburn, if you didn’t create the ID and simply have it in your possession; you will be likely charged with the criminal possession of a forged instrument in the fourth degree, described in § 13A-9-7 as follows:

“A person commits the crime of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the fourth degree if he or she possesses or utters a forged instrument of a kind covered in Section 13A-9-4 with knowledge that it is forged and with intent to defraud.”

Note:  The proper charge would be “possession of a forged instrument in the 2nd degree” a class C felony because the fake ID is the type listed in Section 13A-9-3.  However, Auburn, depending on the circumstances, will most likely charge you with a misdemeanor.

Penalty for Possession of a Forged Instrument 4th

In the Auburn Municipal Court you will most likely end up with a Class A misdemeanor, a charge which is punishable by fines and a jail time of up to 6 months. Keep in mind, these figures don’t factor in whatever charges you may face for the possession of alcohol as a minor, discussed in our article on MIP’s.  Also, you may be convicted of a forgery charge, a crime of moral turpitude which may preclude you from certain occupations.

How You’re Likely to be Caught and Intent to Defraud

 Due to the high quality of modern fakes and the sometimes superficial inspections of identification by bar staff members, it isn’t likely that students will actually be caught using their fake ID’s. Instead, it is much more likely that a student will make contact with a police officer outside the bar for some other reason (public intoxication, disruptive behavior, etc.) and that the false identification will be discovered during the exchange.

Policemen in Auburn aren’t stupid, and they will likely be able to tell if you are not of drinking age when you walk out of SkyBar or any other bar, even if you have a hand stamp or wristband. The stamps and wristbands become especially useful to officers if they check your real ID, see that you’re under 21, and notice that you shouldn’t even have them in the first place. They now know you have a fake ID.  This is an easy identifier for the “intent to defraud” required in section 13A-9-7 of the Alabama Code.

Practice Pointer:  Never, never, never give your fake ID to a police officer as your real ID.  It gets really bad after that.

Fake Alabama ID’s: Real ID, Wrong Person, or Just Fake.

As technology advances, it is becoming much easier for college students to obtain “forged instruments” for the purpose of drinking underage. Before modern technology made the world a smaller place, students had to create their own fakes or even find a local fake ID factory; but now, students can order their false identification online from Chinese based manufacturers and obtain high quality, personalized ID’s for any state they wish, delivered directly to their door.(Remember, this is a crime.) Despite the rising quality of these forged documents; though, they are still not entirely passable for a real ID. Some students; however, choose to present a real Alabama ID in order to obtain alcohol, it just isn’t their own.

So what if you aren’t using a forged instrument, but just someone else’s real, genuine Alabama ID? Well, while carrying someone else’s genuine ID on your person isn’t a crime in itself, using it is.

The Code of Alabama has a special section specifically regarding fake Alabama licenses. The Code of Alabama section 13A-10-14 states that:

(a) It is unlawful for anyone to possess and present a facsimile of an official identification card issued by the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency.

 (b) It is a Class A misdemeanor for any person to possess and present such a facsimile of an official identification card as described in subsection (b) of Section 13A-10-13.”

Keep in mind, this law explicitly states that it is illegal simply to possess a forged Alabama ID, you don’t have to be caught using it to face these penalties.

Long Term Consequences

The consequences for a forged instrument charge are even more far reaching than just the fines and jail time alone. The most severe aspect of the charge is that it is a crime of moral turpitude and deceit, and it will remain on your record for the rest of your academic and professional career. Graduate school applications and exams (LSAT, MCAT, etc.,) all require you to disclose any charges of the sort on your application, and having a forgery charge will certainly hurt your chances of getting into the schools of your choice.   It may also preclude you from certain occupations or obtaining professional licenses.

If you have been charged with the possession of a forged instrument, forgery, minor in possession of alcohol, or any related crime, you should seek legal counsel from a qualified defense attorney, especially one with experience in alcohol-related offenses.