Fake ID's are used frequently in New Jersey by those under the legal drinking age of 21, whether the goal is to gain entry into a popular Jersey Shore bar or nightclub or to purchase beer or liquor for a house party. Municipal police departments have to come up with clever ways to enforce the New Jersey fake ID laws, one being the use of undercover officers in the State's Cops in Shops initiative.
What is “Cops in Shops”?
Cops in Shops is a national program which works by placing local police officers in participating liquor stores to work undercover as liquor store employees. They are also sometimes used outside of the store to catch adults who buy alcohol for underage drinkers who are fishing on the premises. “Fishing” is the term used for the act of hanging out in a parking lot while looking for a person over the age of 21 who is willing to purchase alcohol for kids who are under the legal drinking age.
The New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) adopted the Cops in Shops program in 1996. Since then, the State's law enforcement has made over 10,000 arrests, 202 made in 2012 alone using this tactic. The Cops in Shops program is heightened in the summer months, from May until September, when the Jersey Shore area is more populated and young adults are enjoying their summer vacations. Police departments throughout Ocean County and Monmouth County participate in the initiative, including: Belmar Police Department, Neptune Police Department, Barnegat Police Department, Beach Haven Police Department, Lakewood Police Department, Point Pleasant Beach Police Department and Seaside Heights Police Department.
Penalties for Buying Alcohol for Someone Underage
If an adult is caught serving, offering or buying alcohol for another person under the age of 21 in New Jersey, he or she could face criminal penalties of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for this disorderly persons offense.
The liquor store who made the sale of alcohol to an underage purchaser will also be penalized. The establishment can have their liquor license suspended or lose their license to make liquor sales in New Jersey. If involved in a sale of alcohol to a minor under the age of 18, the liquor store will have their liquor license suspended for a minimum of 15 days. If the store sells alcohol to an individual between the ages of 18 and 20, it will face a loss of license for at least 30 days. These suspension periods increase with the number of past similar offenses.
Fake ID Penalties in New Jersey
Under statute N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1(c), a person who offers a type of false identification, such as a fake driver's license, to purchase alcohol while under the age of 21 is committing a third degree crime. If found guilty of this fake ID offense, he or she can face as much as a $15,000 fine and three to five years in prison. Additionally, the underage defendant will lose his or her driver's license for a period between six months and two years.
If an individual uses identification of another person's to purchase alcohol or cigarettes while underage, the charge is classified as a disorderly persons offense under N.J.S.A. 2C:28-7. The penalties in this instance are less, with a possibility of a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
The mere possession of a fake ID, without being caught offering it for an illegal purchase, is also a criminal offense in New Jersey. Under law N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1(d), knowingly possessing a document which falsely claims to be a driver's license, birth certificate or other governmental document is a crime of the fourth degree. This crime comes with penalties of up to 18 months in jail and up to a $10,000 fine if convicted. Additionally, the underage possessor will lose his or her driver's license for a period between six months and two years.
Call a Fake ID Lawyer if Caught by a Cop in a Shop
If you have been charged with a fake ID crime or disorderly persons offense in New Jersey while possessing false identification or offering a fake ID to purchase alcohol or cigarettes, you need immediate legal help. Call one of the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Villani & DeLuca today to find out your rights and get the representation you deserve. The criminal lawyers at our firm offer free, no obligation consultations, so call today to discuss your fake ID charge!