Do you remember being a teenager and longing for your 21st birthday? The temptation of getting a fake ID was too much, and you finally caved in.
You can potentially be charged with a felony or misdemeanor based on that fake ID from over a decade ago.
The question is: How is that even possible?
Recently, the MVD (Arizona Department of Transportation) implemented facial recognition technology that cross-references photo IDs. When faces are recognized that have different biographical information attached, the matters are flagged for investigation.
Yes, you could receive a call from the Office of the Inspector General (a police officer) inquiring about a fake ID you perhaps received in college to get into bars a few years early.
You may think the statute of limitations has lapsed, but that may not be the case. Generally speaking, crimes have expiration dates. However, in the area of fraud, the time does not toll until the fraud has been discovered. Arizona Revised Statute §12-543 states that the process “shall be commenced and prosecuted within three years after the cause of action accrues, and not afterward.” That means, once the fraud has been discovered, prosecution has three years to charge you.
It is not clear what sort of actions the Office of the Inspector General will take in many of these cases. If it was truly just youthful indiscretion occurring many years ago, perhaps they will let it slide. But what if your photo was used on someone else’s license? What if the photo ID is identified as being part of some other criminal matter? What if your ID was used for someone else to fraudulently obtain employment? What if your photo was used on other illegal documentation?
No one wants to be judged by their actions when they were a young adult, but with this new implementation of technology, your actions could come back to haunt you. Before you speak to any investigator, know your rights. It is always best not to answer questions until you have consulted with an attorney, even if the investigator says they will suspend your license. You have a right not to incriminate yourself and to refuse to speak with a police officer or detective. Depending on the circumstances, there may be more issues to consider than driver’s license revocation – a fraud charge could have lasting implications for professional licensure, creditworthiness, and employability.