Fake ID vs Stealing Beer in Texas

A kid called me awhile back. He was arrested and charged with having a fake ID. Of course, he had the fake ID to get into bars and to buy beer. He was 20, but his ID said he was over 21. 

Punishment for a Fake ID and for Theft

When I looked up the law, I was shocked to see that possessing a fake ID is a class A misdemeanor. That means that if he’s found guilty, he could be sentenced to up to a year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine. I was shocked because I have represented several people who have been accused of theft. Jail time for theft isn’t in the range of punishment until someone has stolen over $100 worth of property.  Theft under $100 is a class C misdemeanor, the same level as a speeding ticket. The maximum punishment if you’re found guilty is a $500 fine. To be charged with a class A misdemeanor, you must steal between $750 and $2500 worth of property. This means that if you are caught buying 1 beer with a fake ID, the punishment range is the same as if you had tried stealing $2500 worth of beer.

Can I Borrowed an ID?

It actually gets weirder. If you lend someone your ID to use or if you borrow an ID, you could be charged with that same Class A misdemeanor. If you steal someone’s driver’s license, it’s only a Class B misdemeanor. This makes no sense.

Is Texas Encouraging Minors to Steal Alcohol?

Laws are meant to encourage and discourage certain types of behavior. The punishment level is based on the state’s desire to discourage you from doing something. The punishment level for murder is higher than it is for punching someone because the state wants to discourage you from murdering someone more than it wants to discourage you from punching someone.

I’m sure that the punishment is this high for having a fake ID because Texas doesn’t want you using a fraudulent ID to steal someone’s identity. In reality, many minors have tried to use fake IDs to access alcohol. Texas could write the law so that if someone is using a fake ID in a fraudulent way to steal someone’s identity or for financial fraud, the punishment is enhanced. If someone has 2 grams of cocaine, it’s a third-degree felony, but if they intend to distribute that same amount of cocaine, the crime is enhanced to a second-degree felony. There’s no reason the legislature couldn’t do something similar for fake IDs.

With the current state of the law, it seems like Texas is essentially encouraging minors to steal alcohol instead of using a fake ID or borrowing someone’s ID.

How To Legally Drink as a Minor

For the record, I recommend you don’t steal alcohol or use a fake ID. If you’re under 21 and want to drink alcohol, have your parent buy it for you and drink it around them. If you do that, neither you nor your parent are breaking any laws.

If you’re being charged with possessing a fake ID or any other crime in San Antonio, please schedule a free consultation. You can use the link below or call us at 210-900-2806. Taking any charge seriously is essential because it could show up on background checks and follow you around for the rest of your life, if not handled correctly. 

I had a kid call me a while back. He was arrested and charged with having a fake ID. He of course had the fake ID to get into bars and to buy beer. He was 20, but his ID said he was over 21. I had never represented someone charged with this before.

Punishment for Fake IDs and for Theft

I looked up the law and was shocked to see that possessing a fake ID is a class A misdemeanor. That means that if he’s found guilty, he could be sentenced to up to a year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine. I was shocked because I have represented several people who have been accused of theft. Jail time for theft isn’t in the range of punishment until someone has stolen over $100 worth of property.  Theft under $100 is a class C misdemeanor, the same level as a speeding ticket. The maximum punishment if you’re found guilty is a $500 fine. To be charged with a class A misdemeanor, you must steal between $750 and $2500 worth of property. This means that if you are caught buying 1 beer with a fake ID, the punishment range is the same as if you had tried stealing $2500 worth of beer.

Can I Use a Borrowed ID?

It actually gets weirder. If you lend someone your ID to use or if you borrow an ID, you could be charged with that same Class A misdemeanor. If you steal someone’s driver’s license, it’s only a Class B misdemeanor. This makes no sense.

Is Texas Encouraging Minors to Steal Alcohol?

Laws are meant to encourage and discourage certain types of behavior. The punishment level is based on the state’s desire to discourage you from doing something. The punishment level for murder is higher than it is for punching someone because the state wants to discourage you from murdering someone more than it wants to discourage you from punching someone.

I’m sure that the punishment is this high for having a fake ID because Texas doesn’t want you using a fraudulent ID to steal someone’s identity. In reality, many minors have tried to use fake IDs to access alcohol. Texas could write the law so that if someone is using a fake ID in a fraudulent way to steal someone’s identity or for financial fraud, the punishment is enhanced. If someone has 2 grams of cocaine, it’s a third-degree felony, but if they intend to distribute that same amount of cocaine, the crime is enhanced to a second-degree felony. There’s no reason the legislature couldn’t do something similar for fake IDs.

With the current state of the law, it seems like Texas is essentially encouraging minors to steal alcohol instead of using a fake ID or borrowing someone’s ID.

How To Legally Drink as a Minor

For the record, I recommend you don’t steal alcohol or use a fake ID. If you’re under 21 and want to drink alcohol, have your parent buy it for you and drink it around them. If you do that, neither you nor your parent are breaking any laws.

If you’re being charged with possessing a fake ID or any other crime in San Antonio, please schedule a free consultation. You can use the link below or call us at 210-900-2806. Taking any charge seriously is essential because it could show up on background checks and follow you around for the rest of your life, if not handled correctly. 

The Law

Texas Transportation Code

Sec. 521.451.  GENERAL VIOLATION. 

(a)  Except as provided by Section 521.452, a person may not:

(1)  display, cause or permit to be displayed, or have in the person’s possession a driver’s license or certificate that the person knows is fictitious or has been altered;

(2)  lend the person’s driver’s license or certificate to another person or knowingly permit another person to use the person’s driver’s license or certificate;

(3)  display or represent as the person’s own a driver’s license or certificate not issued to the person;

 

(b)  An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

 

Sec. 521.453.  FICTITIOUS LICENSE OR CERTIFICATE. 

(a)  Except as provided by Subsection (f), a person under the age of 21 years commits an offense if the person possesses, with the intent to represent that the person is 21 years of age or older, a document that is deceptively similar to a driver’s license or a personal identification certificate unless the document displays the statement “NOT A GOVERNMENT DOCUMENT” diagonally printed clearly and indelibly on both the front and back of the document in solid red capital letters at least one-fourth inch in height.

(d) For purposes of this section, an offense under Subsection (a) is a Class C misdemeanor.

Texas Penal Code

Sec. 31.03.  THEFT.  (a)  A person commits an offense if he unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of property.

(e)  Except as provided by Subsections (f) and (f-1), an offense under this section is:

(1)  a Class C misdemeanor if the value of the property stolen is less than $100;

 

(2)  a Class B misdemeanor if:

(A)  the value of the property stolen is $100 or more but less than $750;

(B)  the value of the property stolen is less than $100 and the defendant has previously been convicted of any grade of theft; or

(C)  the property stolen is a driver’s license, commercial driver’s license, or personal identification certificate issued by this state or another state;

 

(3)  a Class A misdemeanor if the value of the property stolen is $750 or more but less than $2,500;

 

Sec. 106.04. CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOL BY A MINOR. (a) A minor commits an offense if he consumes an alcoholic beverage.

(b) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the alcoholic beverage was consumed in the visible presence of the minor’s adult parent, guardian, or spouse.

 

Sec. 106.05. POSSESSION OF ALCOHOL BY A MINOR. (a) Except as provided in Subsection (b) of this section, a minor commits an offense if he possesses an alcoholic beverage.

(b) A minor may possess an alcoholic beverage:

(2) if the minor is in the visible presence of his adult parent, guardian, or spouse, or other adult to whom the minor has been committed by a court;

 

SUBCHAPTER B. ORDINARY MISDEMEANOR PUNISHMENTS

Sec. 12.21.  CLASS A MISDEMEANOR.  An individual adjudged guilty of a Class A misdemeanor shall be punished by:

(1)  a fine not to exceed $4,000;

(2)  confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year;  or

(3)  both such fine and confinement.

 

Sec. 12.22.  CLASS B MISDEMEANOR.  An individual adjudged guilty of a Class B misdemeanor shall be punished by:

(1)  a fine not to exceed $2,000;

(2)  confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days;  or

(3)  both such fine and confinement.

 

Sec. 12.23.  CLASS C MISDEMEANOR.  An individual adjudged guilty of a Class C misdemeanor shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $500.

 

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Sean Henricksen

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