I. LEGAL DEFINITION
PC 529.5: the crime of Manufacturing Fake Identification Documents (IDs) occurs when an individual manufactures, sells, offers to sell, or transfers any document that for its content and appearance looks like a government-issued ID, knowing that it’s not a government-issued ID. The crime is committed also by any individual who possesses an ID or Driver’s License not issued by a Government Agency, knowing that the document is false.
In order to obtain a conviction for a violation of PC 529.5, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each of the following:
- You either manufactured, sold, offered to sell, or otherwise transferred an identification card or a driver’s license
- The content or look of the identification or driver’s license would lead an ordinary person to believe that the document is issued by a government agency
- At the time you manufactured, sold, offered to sell, or otherwise transferred the document, you knew that the document is not a government-issued ID.
In case you are charged with the crime because you were found in possession of the fake ID, the prosecution will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that, at the time you were found in possession of the fake ID, you knew that the ID in your possession was not a government-issued document.
II. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
You commit PC 529.5 when you manufacture, sell, offer to sell, or simply transfer to another person a document that looks like an ID, whether it’s an ID card or a driver’s license, and at the time you manufactured or transferred the document, you knew that the document is not an ID issued by a government agency. You commit the crime also if you are found in possession of a fake ID, and you knew that ID was fake.
There are two major differences between the crime of Manufacturing Fake IDs and Counterfeiting and Forgery.
- To prove the crime of Manufacturing Fake IDs, the prosecuting only has to prove that you manufactured or transferred to another person an ID that, at the time you manufactured or transferred the document, you knew it was a fake ID. To prove that charges of Counterfeiting or Forgery, the prosecution must prove also that you manufactured or transferred the fake ID with the intent to defraud another person.
- Manufacturing Fake IDs is a misdemeanor, punishable with a sentence of up to one year in county jail. Counterfeiting is a felony punishable with a sentence to county jail for up four years. Forgery is a “wobbler” offense, which means that it can be charged either as a misdemeanor or as a felony; if it’s charged as a misdemeanor, you can be sentenced to jail for up to one year. If it’s charged as a felony, you can be sentenced to jail for up to three years.
John is a college student at a large university. His friend Travis from back home works at a print store and is good with computers. John and Travis start a fake ID business, in which John collects money and passport photos from his fellow college students, mails the photos and the money to Travis, who designs and then manufactures the fake IDs. When the batch of IDs is ready, Travis mails them to John, who then hands them over to the students.
Did John and/or Travis violate PC 529.5?
Yes, they both did. John committed Manufacturing Fake IDs when he offered to sell fake IDs to his classmates. Travis committed Manufacturing Fake IDs when he manufactured the fake IDs using the passport photos provided by John.
PC 529.5 – Manufacturing Fake IDs is a misdemeanor for which you can be sentenced to county jail for up to one year, be ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000, or both. The amount of the fine may reach $5,000 if you have a prior conviction for the same crime. If you are sentenced to a county jail, you would have to serve at least 50% of your sentence. If you are convicted of PC 529.5 because you were found in possession of a fake ID, you will be sentenced to pay a fine of between $1,000 and $2,500; however, the Court may give you the option to work off the fine by performing community service instead. If community service is not available, the Court can only impose a fine of $1,000. This is not a strike offense under California’s Three Strikes Law. It is also not a Sex Offense requiring Sex Registration under PC 290. This is not a crime of moral turpitude, so it would not directly impact you in Immigration Court or if you have a professional license.
- Insufficient Evidence. The most common defense used in criminal defense is that there simply isn’t enough evidence to convict you of the charge. For example, you were found in possession of a fake ID, but you didn’t know that the ID was fake. You went bowling the night before, and when the clerk handed back the ID after you returned the shoes, he gave you back the fake ID of another guy who doesn’t look like you at all, but you didn’t check whether the ID the clerk gave you back was actually your ID.
- Violation of Your Rights. This is the case in which the police obtain evidence of the crime by violating your rights, such as your right to be free from unreasonable police searches. Going back to the scenario we discussed above, the prosecution may charge John with PC 529.5 because the police found a box with the fake IDs in the trunk of John’s car; however, when the police search John’s car, they didn’t have probable cause to open the trunk and check the content of the box that contained the fake IDs.
Being arrested and possibly charged with PC 529.5 – Manufacturing Fake IDs can cost you or your family a lot of money in fines, and it might cause you to spend some time in county jail. This is why it is crucial that you immediately contact our PC 529.5 attorneys if you have concerns that you may be investigated for Manufacturing Fake IDs. If charges have not yet been filed, we will immediately contact the assigned investigators and prosecutors to assess if law enforcement has sufficient evidence to even file charges, so that we may minimize the risks to your reputation, finances, and freedom. You, or your loved ones, cannot take a chance on a criminal charge. Our Ontario PC 529.5 attorneys have successfully defended thousands of people charged with crimes throughout the entire Inland Empire. Call your local Ontario Criminal Defense Attorneys today at the Inland Empire Defense 909-939-7126. Located in Ontario.