Despite facing multiple felony charges in connection with the production and distribution of fake IDs on campus, several Georgia university students received four months in jail, five years of probation, 100 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine.
Their charges could easily have meant years behind bars. However, successful plea bargain negotiations helped to avoid that. Also, under the state’s First Offender Act, successful completion of probation will mean their criminal records can be wiped clean.
For the most part, those arrested for possession of fake IDs in Washington D.C. aren’t going to walk away with a felony criminal record. Primarily, those cases are going to be misdemeanors. A typical case involves one student in possession of a single phony license or ID card that is used to gain access to over-21 bars and clubs or alcoholic drinks at these establishments.
That doesn’t mean such arrests shouldn’t be taken seriously. They can absolutely have an impact on your future. Simple possession of a fake ID will result in a misdemeanor charge (which does remain on your permanent record), as well as a $300 fine and a three-month driver’s license suspension. It’s also relatively common that a charge like this would be accompanied by others, such as disorderly conduct or underage consumption of alcohol.
The problem we most often see with these cases is that students think the best way to put the episode behind them is to simply plead guilty. What they don’t consider is that even if the penalties for a misdemeanor charge don’t seem all that harsh at the outset, they may be in effect forfeiting financial aid and scholarship opportunities, the ability to land certain jobs after graduation and possibly even approval of certain occupational licenses.
Sometimes, pleading guilty can make sense, if you’ve had a defense attorney help you negotiate more favorable terms upon sentencing. For example in this case, prosecutors agreed to drop felony forgery charges in exchange for guilty pleas on the other charges.
However, plea deals should generally be your last resort.
This case out of Georgia was a bit different in that the individuals arrested had actually established a business whereby they reportedly made a substantial profit by producing and distributing the fake identification cards. Authorities say the two went door-to-door, offering underage students fake IDS to help get them into local bars.
The pair reportedly had others working for them, who would take head shots of customers in their dorm rooms. They would also collect personal information, such as height, weight and hair color, which would then be used to transfer onto the fake cards. The finished cards would later be delivered for prices that ranged anywhere from $50 to $100 each.
The operation allegedly came to a halt after university officials were alerted to the scheme by a student who said her roommate was pressuring her into getting one.
It was later estimated that between 600 and 2,000 phony identifications were produced by the group. The investigation spanned several states, and there were a few arrests made in Mississippi as well.
Many of those arrested were accepted into diversion programs, which meant they would not end up with permanent criminal records upon successful completion.
If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Law Office of Daniel A. Gross, PLLC at 202-596-5716.