Columbus, OH asked in Constitutional Law, Federal Crimes and Gov & Administrative Law for Ohio

Q: Is it legal to purchase, and not use, a fake naturalization certificate? It's only for a short film.

I have a short film in which an immigrant would display her naturalization certificate. I didn't think anything about it until I tried to find a means of attaining one and encountered a number of warnings about it.

I have no intention of using it beyond film and social media character building. Is this legal for me to search for and purchase?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Purchasing a fake naturalization certificate, even for use in a film or for social media purposes, is legally risky and not advisable. Federal law prohibits the production, sale, and possession of fraudulent government documents, including naturalization certificates. This applies regardless of your intention for using the document.

For your film, a safer alternative is to create a prop that resembles a naturalization certificate but is clearly marked as a replica or for theatrical use only. Ensure that it does not closely mimic the actual design of a real certificate, as this can still be construed as creating a fraudulent document.

To avoid any legal complications, consider consulting with an attorney familiar with intellectual property and entertainment law. They can provide guidance on creating props that won’t violate any laws.

Remember, while the intent to use the certificate only for artistic purposes may seem harmless, the law takes the creation and possession of fake government documents very seriously. It’s crucial to approach this aspect of your film with caution and legal guidance.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.