Q: I am a college student and was caught using a fake ID this past weekend to go to the bar.
I was told I would be summoned to court. I am also in the process of trying to get a job and was wondering if this would be shown on a background check before I actually get summoned, after I get a letter to be summoned, or until I actually attend my court date. I was also wondering what the charges will likely be and if I will get expunged and no longer be on my record.
A: This will not show up on a backround check until you are arraigned and the formal criminal process started. However, this can be a serious crime that many students don't realize until something like this happens. Under Mass. General Laws c.90 § 24B It is a '5 year felony' which simply put means it is the maximum possible sentence. It could also possibly be brought under Mass general Laws. Ch. 138 sec 34B, which has it as a misdemeanor : "Any person who transfers, alters or defaces any such card or license, or who makes, uses, carries, sells or distributes a false identification card or license, or uses the identification card or motor vehicle license of another, or furnishes false information in obtaining such card or license, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not more than two hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than three months." IF you are lucky they might set this up for a clerk's hearing on the misdemeanor, but usually not. It is up to the police bringing the charges and how it might go varies widely court to court. Usually you will get a notice to go to Court for an arraignment. In addition to being a felony, ( or misdemeanor) a conviction will impact your driver's license ( 6 mos lic loss) , criminal record, employment applications in the future etc. As a first time offender you are absolutely not going to jail or anything like that, but it is serious to the Court's particularly in the ones close to college campuses where this is very common. Please think long and hard about letting your parents in on this and letting them help you. They might be very disturbed later to find the opportunities you could have impacted because you were too anxious to tell them. I have found that parents do not want their kids toughing this out alone. That said, if you can manage it, get a lawyer before the arraignment as there are some steps possible that could head off the criminal process. In 2018 MA passed laws so that first time offenders could be diverted out of the criminal system and have an opportunity to keep the blemish from the record. You will want to take action before arraignment as that is the time it gets entered into the state and then national database, and getting it out is hard once its in. There are many of us here on Justia that handle cases like this regularly, and could provide more specific information based on where you are, the court that will hear it, and management of the case once you hear back from the Court. Good luck. Also, do your mates a favor and let them know the fake ID's just arent worth the risk and consequences.
William Barabino agrees with this answer
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