It doesn’t matter why you have a counterfeit ID in California, simply having one on is against the law. When you have a counterfeit ID you are violating Vehicle Code 13004.1 VC. When you read through the law, you’ll see that not only are you not legally able to possess a counterfeit ID card in California, but you’re also not allowed to manufacture or sell a fake identity card.
Things prohibited by Vehicle Code 13004.1 VC include:
• Using an identification card that doesn’t belong to you
• Taking steps to either make or purchase a counterfeit identification
• Creating a counterfeit California identification
• Altering a California Identification card or driver’s license
• Lending someone your identification even though you know it will be illegally used
• lending someone else your ID card or knowingly letting another person use it;
• permitting the unlawful use of your ID card;
Strictly speaking, violating is a misdemeanor offense. If you’re convicted, the maximum sentence is a $1,000 fine and 24 hours in jail. The problem many people run into is that they are rarely charged with just violating Vehicle Code 13004.1 VC. In most cases, there are many additional charges that includes everything from trying to purchase alcohol/tobacco as a minor, fraud, and identity theft. Each of these crimes has a different sentence and can have a devastating impact on your future
If you’re charged with having a counterfeit ID, there are some defenses you may be able to successfully use.
The first is that you didn’t intend to defraud anyone. This can be a difficult defense to use because you have to come up with a plausible reason why you had a counterfeit identification in your possession if you never intended to use it. The defense is also useless if you were caught actually attempting to use fake identification.
Some people have managed to use a duress defense. To successfully argue duress, you have to prove that someone was metaphorically pulling your strings and using fear and/or intimidation to force you to use a fake identification.
Perhaps the most common defense used in counterfeit identification cases is that the identification was found during an unlawful search and seizure. This indicates that the police would not have been aware of the card’s presence if they hadn’t searched your person/car/house without going through the proper legal channels.