If you have used a fake Driver’s License or even just altered your own genuine Driver’s License (e.g., to extend the expiration date), then yes, you can be prosecuted for a crime under both Florida Law and Federal Law. Under Federal Law, you can be sentenced up to 15 years in prison for this crime.-Written and Researched by Brittany Zachar
The issue to consider is what statutes would the manufacture of a false document fall under with respect to the federal and Florida state statutes.
a. Federal Statute
1. The federal statute to consider is 18 U.S.C. § 1028. Under § 1028(a)(1), whoever “knowingly and without lawful authority produces an identification document, authentication feature, or a false identification document” shall be punished. Subsection (b) identifies all the plausible punishments for the different types of offenses listed in Subsection (a). Additionally, the Government has the burden of showing that the defendant knew that the means of identification he unlawfully transferred, possessed, or used belonged to another person. Flores-Figueroa v. U.S, 129 S.Ct. 1886 (2009).
2. Under 18 U.S.C. § 1028(a)(7), the statute of limitations for the identity theft charge is five years. See 18 U.S.C. § 3282. Some courts recognize that the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the victim of the identity theft discovers that his personal information has been misappropriated. Fritzhand v. Discover Financial Services, Inc., 800 N.Y.S.2d 316 (Sup 2005). However, there are other courts that consider the statute of limitations to have begun when the injury first occurs, even if the potential victim was not aware of the theft or the misuse of his personal information. Id.
3. If the manufacture of a government document is not an entirely false document, the penalties are still the same. Under 18 U.S.C. § 1028(b), except for the acts provided in paragraphs (3) and (4), a fine under this title and imprisonment for no more than 15 years, or both, are applicable if: (A) the production or transfer of an identification document, authentication feature, or false identification document that is or appears to be a document issued by the United States, a birth certificate, a driver’s license, or a personal identification card. Under subsection (d)(5)(A), the term “false authentication feature” means that although the documentation is genuine in origin, it was tampered with or altered, without authorization, for purposes of deceit. Like in subsection (d)(5)(C), although the document appears to be genuine, it is not. Therefore, the altering of an otherwise genuine document is subject to the same penalties.
b. Florida Statute
1. The Florida statute to consider is the F.S.A. § 817.568. Under 2(a), “any person who willfully and without authorization fraudulently uses, or possesses with intent to fraudulently use, personal identification information concerning an individual without first obtaining that individual’s consent, commits the offense of fraudulent use of personal identification information.” Further, the State must prove the Defendant’s fraudulent use beyond a reasonable doubt. Id.
2. Under F.S.A. § 817.568 (17), the prosecution for an offense under subsection 2 “must be commenced within 3 years after the offense occurred.” However, the prosecution may commence within one year after the discovery of an offense by the aggrieved party (or a person who has a legal duty to represent the aggrieved party), “if the prosecution is commenced within 5 years after the violation occurred.”
3. The penalties given to convicted Defendants are primarily based on § 775.082, § 775.083, and § 775.084. These sections mostly take into account the nature of violation under § 817.568 and the Defendant’s past criminal record.
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