A blog by Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Brian Tannebaum. Commenting on criminal law issues of local and national interest.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Fighting Terrorism, One College Kid's Fake ID At A Time

Soon after September 11, 2001, state and local law enforcement, feeling left out of the feds work to "keep us safe," wanted in on the game. Arrests went down due to local cops spending their time trying to find Osama Bin Laden in coffee shops, retail stores, at former DUI roadblocks, anywhere. The tone of law enforcement changed forever - everyone, every-single-person, could be a terrorist. It remains that way today.

Cue the change in how we deal with fake IDs. Used to be the anxious college student walked up to a bouncer at a bar, showed the fake ID (while somewhat looking away), and if the bouncer realized it was fake, life was over. Not over due to an arrest, but due to the bouncer taking it away, a far worse penalty. The night ended early, and there would be no more nights at bars until a new fake ID was obtained. Nightmare.

Now, states have made possession of a fake ID a felony. If it's not fake, its still a misdemeanor, but not "notice to appear" misdemeanor - a jail misdemeanor.

Remember - that fake ID could be used to board a commercial airliner and....well, you know the mindset. What would we do if we let that pasty face 19 year old chemistry major scoot without an arrest, fingerprints, entry into the state database? Today's bar hopper is tomorrows terrorist.

So I have two of these right now here in Florida. A state like every other state - we're broke, and looking for ways to save money in the criminal justice system.

At yesterday's arraignment, I asked the prosecutor on the record if the plea offer was "don't do it again." The judge chuckled. The prosecutor did too. Then she said "no." They want a record. They got, a demand for jury trial. Another case, clogging up the system.

The other case, they're checking to see if he has priors in other states. They "have information" he may have priors. I'm not joking.

All this, in the name of keeping us safe.

Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. Read his free ebook The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please visit www.tannebaumweiss.com


okdork.com rules Post to Twitter


  1. Anonymous9:12 AM

    I help run a small business and we were looking for a college kid to work for us part time. We interviewed one, liked him, and told him that we would offer him the job pending a background check (mandatory from our bank due to the nature of the business-handling credit card info). He said nothing would come up.

    We get the check back and there's a pending felony on there! We were concerned. It turned out to be this exact situation. We still hired him, but my feeling is that most employers wouldn't (especially since he hid it, which he told us had been his attorney's advice-that's another issue; would you ever advise a client to do that?).

    It's a shame that this decent kid is fighting a felony conviction for a fake ID, and my personal feeling is that it has more than a little to do with the fact that he's of Pakistani origin.

  2. It's absolutely absurd. I have a colleague here in Houston who has a client who went barhopping with a fake ID and now she's also facing a felony charge.

    The last thing we need to be doing is branding young people as criminals if there is any way not to do it. These smug ADAs don't seem to realize, or care, that a record will hang around to haunt these kids 10, 20 or 30 years down the road.

    This is no war on terrorism, it's a war on the Bill of Rights and our individual liberties.

  3. Fake IDs shouldn't be a felony when used like that, but definitely punishable by a fine....I remember my friends just losing it to doormen too, and then going right back to get another one a few days later....Gotta do something to curb that type of behavior....Wow, sounding like an old man now!