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Penal Code 470b Possession of a Fake Driver's License

California Penal Code Section 470b PC is a law that prohibits the use or possession of a fake ID. People may want to use a fake driver's license for a number of reasons, including buying alcohol, getting into bars, cashing someone else's check, getting someone else's drug prescription filled, or to avoid getting arrested for an outstanding warrant.  

Many college students end up facing criminal charges for a fake ID because it may not seem like using a fake ID to buy alcohol seems like a big deal. Unfortunately for the students, it can still result in criminal charges in the same way that someone can face charges for attempting to commit financial fraud. If you are accused of using a fake ID and are facing criminal charges, talk to an experienced local East Bay criminal defense lawyer for help.

Penal Code 470b PC Text 

Under California Penal Code Section 470b, it is an offense to display or have in possession any falsified driver's license or identification card with the intent that the driver's license or identification card be used to facilitate the commission of any forgery

This includes a driver's license or ID that is altered, falsified, forged, duplicated, reproduced, or counterfeited. It may involve taking a legitimate ID and changing the picture, copying another ID, or using a fake ID purchased online. 

As a misdemeanor, the penalties for a conviction for using a fake ID include a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year. 

Elements of the Offense

To be convicted of a crime, you would either plead guilty or be found guilty by the judge or jury. In order to get a conviction, the prosecutor has to prove all the elements of the offense. Each element has to be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If there is any doubt that even one element is not met, you should not be found guilty.  

Under the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions, to prove the defendant is guilty of PC 470b(a), the state has to prove: 

  1. The defendant possessed or displayed a driver's license or government-issued ID;
  2. The license or ID was altered, falsified, forged, duplicated, reproduced, or counterfeited;
  3. The defendant knew that the license or ID was fraudulent; AND 
  4. The defendant intended that the document be used to commit forgery. 

The intent to commit forgery is a broad definition and it includes a general intent to deceive another person to cause a loss of or damage to a legal, financial, or property right. Using a fake ID to buy alcohol from a store when the individual is not old enough to legally buy alcohol can be considered forgery. 

Additional Fraud Charges

Using a fake ID may also result in additional criminal charges. For example, if someone was using a fake ID to cash someone else's checks, they may also be charged with check fraud. If someone was using another person's driver's license because their license was suspended, they may also be charged with driving on a suspended license. 

Defense Strategies for Possession of a Fake ID in California

Not everyone who is accused of having a fake ID is guilty of a crime. There are a number of possible defenses to charges of possession of a fake license, including: 

  • The defendant did not know the identification was fraudulent;
  • The fraudulent license was not in the defendant's possession; or
  • The defendant never intended to use the license to commit forgery. 

Claim a defense may not be enough to convince a judge or jury that you are innocent. Your California criminal defense attorney may need to investigate the case, challenge the evidence against you, and convince the jury that the prosecutor did not prove all the elements of the case. Talk to your lawyer about your defense strategies. 

Defense Lawyer for 470b PC Charges in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties

An arrest for possession of a fake ID often comes with other, related charges. With multiple charges against you, the prosecutor has a better chance to convince you to accept a plea deal, even if their case is weak or you are innocent. Don't accept a plea bargain without understanding your rights. 

East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 37 years of criminal defense experience and understands the consequences of a pleading guilty to a crime without fighting the charges. Representing drivers in Alameda County and Contra Costa County, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the local criminal laws, local officers, and the prosecutors involved. Contact East Bay criminal defense lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.

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