"Fake Identification" Laws in Nevada
(NRS 205.460 - 205.465)

Definition

It is illegal in Nevada to possess or sell fake Identification for fraudulent purposes. In Las Vegas, common fake ID cases involve minors using doctored driver's licenses to buy alcohol or undocumented citizens using counterfeit green cards to gain employment.

Penalties

Fake ID punishments vary depending on the circumstances of the case:

Possession of Fake ID offense Sentence

Possession of a fake ID to drink, gamble, or buy cigarettes (NRS 205.460)

Misdemeanor:

  • Up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • Up to $1,0003

Selling or giving away a fake ID to drink, gamble, or buy cigarettes (NRS 205.460)

Gross misdemeanor:

  • Up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • Up to $2,000 in fines

Possessing false identification to establish a fake identity (NRS 205.465)

Category E felony:

A first-time offense is usually probationable. Otherwise, the judge may impose:

Selling or transferring a fake ID (NRS 205.465)

or

Possessing a fake ID to carry out forgery, debit or credit card fraud, or online fraud (NRS 205.465)

Category C felony:

  • 1 - 10 years in prison
  • up to $10,000 (at the judge's discretion)

Selling or transferring the personal identifying information of a person 60 or older, a vulnerable person, or of five (5) or more people (NRS 205.465)

or

Causing another person to suffer a financial loss or injury of $3,000 or more as a result of selling or giving away personal identification information (NRS 205.465)

Category B felony:

  • 1 - 20 years in prison
  • up to $100,000

Defenses

The two main defense strategies for fake ID charges include showing that:

  1. the defendant had no fraudulent intent, and / or 
  2. the police found the fake ID through an illegal search.

In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:

Cartoon rendering of ID card with the word "Fake" stamped on it
Las Vegas courts see several fake ID cases by people otherwise ineligible to gamble or drink.

1. What are fake IDs in Nevada?

Like it sounds, a fake ID is a counterfeit or altered identification document, such as a Nevada driver's license, passport, Las Vegas work card, or membership card.

It is illegal for someone to have or sell any form of personal identification in order to pass him/herself or someone he/she is not. Typical scenarios that would violate Nevada fake ID law (as well as possibly other Nevada fraud laws) are:

  • An underage person using a doctored driver's license that claims he/she is 21 years old in order to buy alcohol, gamble, rent a car, or buy marijuana;
  • An underage person using a doctored driver's license that claims he/she is old enough to meet a tattoo or body piercing parlor's minimum age for service (which is usually 18);
  • An undocumented alien using fake naturalization papers in order to get employment or other benefits that only legal immigrants are eligible for;
  • A person using a fake ID to get an independent contractor job, where taxes are not taken out of the paycheck;
  • A person using a fake ID to become a member of -- or claim he/she is a member of -- an organization such as AARP or AAA;
  • A person using a fake military ID to obtain veteran benefits;
  • A thief using a counterfeit bankcard in order to obtain money; or
  • A person selling or distributing fake IDs to other people

Nevada courts may infer that defendants caught with identification information for five (5) or more different people are using that information to violate the law.  However, this inference is "rebuttable." This means that courts can still acquit defendants of violating NRS 205.465 if they present convincing evidence of their innocence at trial.1

1.1. Making and identifying fake IDs

Law enforcement uses the term "breeder document" to signify an authentic-looking fake ID. People can often create and obtain a breeder document thanks to sophisticated computer software and color printers. People can find templates for real "specimen" IDs from the very books and "novelty ID" websites meant to help merchants distinguish between fake and authentic IDs.

An illuminated arrow sign saying "fake passport"
It is becoming easier for people to create convincing-looking fake identification cards.

Would-be forgers can turn to the black market to find materials for making fake IDs, such as "blanks" )laminates with a hologram that typically encase driver's licenses). And/or they may try to bribe employees at the Nevada DMV, military bases, the United States Post Office, or banks to get these materials.

Some IDs are obviously fake. For instance, the person's height does not match the height on the ID. Or the person looks too young for the birthday on the ID. But many merchants simply do not have the skills to detect a fake card, or they neglect to do the math to determine whether the ID-holder is old enough.2

2. What are the penalties for fake ID offenses in Nevada?

The punishment for violating Nevada fake ID laws depends on two variables:

  1. whether the defendant tried to sell the fake ID, and
  2. the defendant's purpose in having the fake ID

Note that the D.A. may be willing to plea bargain the charge down to a lesser offense or possibly a dismissal.

2.1. Punishments for possessing fake IDs

Possession of Fake ID conviction Penalties

Possessing a fake ID to make the holder appear old enough to gamble, drink, or buy cigarettes (NRS 205.460)

Misdemeanor:

  • Up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • Up to $1,0003

Possessing false identification for the purpose of establishing a fake identity (and not for the purpose of forgery, debit or credit card fraud, or online fraud) (NRS 205.465)

Category E felony:

  • 1 - 4 years in prison
  • up to $5,000 (at the judge's discretion)

However, the judge typically grants probation with no jail for a first-time conviction.

Possessing an ID for the purpose of forgery, debit or credit card fraud, or online fraud (NRS 205.465)

Category C felony:

  • 1 - 10 years in prison
  • up to $10,000 (at the judge's discretion)4

2.2. Punishments for selling or transferring fake IDs

Selling or Transferring of Fake ID conviction Penalties

Selling or giving away a fake ID in Nevada for the sole purpose of establishing a false age of 21 or older in order to drink, gamble or buy cigarettes (NRS 205.460)

Gross misdemeanor:

  • Up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • Up to $2,000 in fines5

Selling or transferring identification information for the purpose of establishing a false identity (NRS 205.465)

Category C felony:

  • 1 - 10 years in prison
  • up to $10,000 (at the judge's discretion)

Selling or transferring the personal identifying information of a person 60 or older or a vulnerable person (NRS 205.465)

Category B felony:

  • 1 - 20 years in prison
  • up to $100,000

Selling or transferring the personal identifying information of five (5) or more persons (NRS 205.465)

Category B felony:

  • 1 - 20 years in prison
  • up to $100,000

Causing another person to suffer a financial loss or injury of $3,000 or more as a result of selling or giving away personal identification information (NRS 205.465)

Category B felony:

  • 1 - 20 years in prison
  • up to $100,0006

2.1. Juvenile fake ID penalties

Children under age 18 who get caught using or selling a fake ID will probably be prosecuted in juvenile court instead of adult criminal court. If the child defendant is adjudicated delinquent, the judge may impose such penalties as fines, community service, and a driver's license suspension.7

Note that child defendants may also face repercussions from their schools, such as suspension. And having a juvenile record may also disqualify the child from certain scholarships and other privileges.

Learn more about Nevada juvenile crimes.

3. What are the defenses to fake ID charges in Nevada?

Various defenses exist which a defense attorney may use to fight a Nevada fake ID charge. The following are two of the most common.

Hands exchanging cash for a fake passport
Common defenses to false ID cases is 1) no fraudulent intent, and 2) police misconduct
  1. No intent to defraud
  2. Police misconduct

Note that prosecutors have the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt before a defendant may be convicted at trial. The defense attorney's job is to try to show the prosecutor that their evidence is too insufficient, inaccurate, or unreliable to sustain a guilty verdict. If the prosecutor realizes its case is too weak, the prosecutor may agree to reduce the charge or even dismiss it.

3.1. No intent to defraud

Possessing a falsified identification card in and of itself is no crime as long as it is not used for fraudulent purposes.8 Henderson criminal defense attorney Michael Becker gives an example:

Example: Kay is given graphics software and a printer for her 16th birthday. She decides to design a driver's license to see how well the software and printer work. She shows the fake license to a friend, whose dad see and tells the police. But Kay committed no crime because she did not possess the ID for the purpose of establishing a false identity. And since there is no evidence that Kay used the ID for fraudulent purposes, the case should be dismissed.

In sum, fake IDs become the basis of criminal charges only if the intention behind them is to defraud others. Merely making a fake ID for artistic purposes or for a gag gift is not a crime. 

3.2. Police misconduct

Sometimes the police perform an illegal search in Nevada without establishing probable cause or by going beyond the bounds of a search warrant. Mesquite criminal defense attorney Neil Shouse provides an illustration:

Example: Officer Holmes gets a tip that William creates fake driver's licenses. Officer Holmes breaks into his home and finds several false licenses and license-making materials. After William gets arrested, his defense attorney files a motion to suppress, where the attorney argues that the police search was unconstitutional because Officer Holmes did not get a search warrant first. If the judge agrees that Officer Holmes needed a search warrant, then the judge can exclude all the evidence the officer found through the illegal search. This may severely weaken the state's case and could even cause them to drop the charges.

William in the above example may have broken the law, but Officer Holmes may have violated the Constitution. And in criminal cases, police misconduct can outweigh the defendant's alleged misconduct when the court determines which evidence is admissible.

4. Can I get a fake ID case sealed in Nevada?

Usually yes, though the waiting period to get a record seal depends on which category of crime the defendant was convicted of:

Fake ID Offense Waiting Period

Dismissal or acquittal of charges (no conviction)

No waiting period9 

Misdemeanor:

  • Possessing a fake ID for the purpose of making the holder appear old enough to gamble, drink, or buy cigarettes (NRS 205.460)

1 year after the case ends

Gross misdemeanor:

  • Selling or giving away a fake ID in Nevada for the purpose of establishing a false age of 21 or older in order to drink, gamble, or buy cigarettes (NRS 205.460)

2 years after the case ends

Category E felony:

  • Possessing an ID for the purpose of establishing a fake identity (NRS 205.465)

2 years after the case ends

Category C felony:

  • Possessing false identification for the purpose of forgery, debit or credit card fraud, or online fraud, or
  • Selling or transferring identification information for the purpose of establishing a false identity (NRS 205.465)

5 years after the case ends

Category B felony:

  • Selling or transferring the personal identifying information of a person 60 or older or a vulnerable person, or
  • Selling or transferring the personal identifying information of five (5) or more persons, or
  • Causing another person to suffer a financial loss or injury of $3,000 or more as a result of selling or giving away personal identification information. (NRS 205.465)

5 years after the case ends10

Anyone with a Nevada criminal record should take measures to seal it as soon as possible. Potential employers who see it on a background check may assume the person is dishonest and decline to hire him/her. Learn about how to get a Nevada criminal record seal.

4.1. Sealing juvenile records

Most juvenile records get sealed automatically when the defendant turns 21. Defendants can petition the court to seal the record earlier once three (3) years have passed since the defendant was adjudicated delinquent.11

Learn about how to get a juvenile record seal in Nevada.

5. Can I get deported for a Nevada fake ID conviction?

A hand with a tool creating a fake passport
Possessing a fake identification card may be deportable.

Yes. Aliens convicted of a fake identification crime in Nevada may be deported or denied the opportunity to naturalize to the United States. This is because the offense counts as a crime of moral turpitude.12

Therefore non-citizens prosecuted for a criminal defense should retain counsel right away to try to get the charge dismissed or changed to a non-deportable offense. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada

6. Related offenses

Depending on the case, people accused of having or selling fake IDs in Nevada may also face charges for the following identity-related crimes.

6.1. False Impersonation (NRS 205.463)

It is a crime in Nevada for a person to pretend to be another person in order to:

  • get married,
  • make a real estate transaction,
  • confess to a crime or civil judgment,
  • act as bail or surety in any legal proceeding, or
  • commit any other act during a lawsuit or proceeding that compromises another's financial interests

Note that this offense applies only to defendants accused of impersonating a real person, not a fictional person.

The penalty for violating NRS 205.463 is a category C felony, carrying:

  • 1 - 5 years in prison, and
  • up to $10,000 in crimes (at the judge's discretion), and
  • restitution

Learn more about the Nevada crime of false impersonation.

6.2. Credit Card Fraud (NRS 205.610 - 205.810)

Nevada prohibits deliberately misusing credit or debit card information to another's financial detriment. In most cases, credit card fraud is prosecuted as a category D felony. The punishment is:

  • 1 - 4 years in prison, and
  • $5,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion), and
  • restitution

Learn more about the Nevada crime of credit card fraud.

6.3. Identity Theft (18 U.S.C. 1028)

Identity theft is when someone fraudulently uses another's identification information (typically to obtain money). Depending on the case, a conviction can carry up to 30 years in federal prison as well as high fines and restitution. Learn more about the federal crime of identity theft.

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If after reading this you would like to discuss your situation with our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers, call 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). We will fight to try to win your case and keep your record clean.

Arrested in California? Go to our pages on Penal Code 470b: California fake ID laws and Vehicle Code 13004: Unlawful acts involving identification cards.

Arrested in Colorado? Go to our page on Colorado fake ID laws.


Legal References:

  1. NRS 205.460 Preparation, transfer or use of false identification regarding person under 21 years of age; penalties; demand of proof of age as defense to certain proceedings.

          1. Every person who counterfeits, forges, alters, erases or obliterates, or who attempts to counterfeit, forge, alter, erase or obliterate any card, writing, paper or document, or any photocopy print, photostat, or other replica of any card, writing, paper or document which is designed for the purpose of personal identification and which bears the age of the holder or purported holder thereof, or which, although not designed for the purpose of personal identification, is commonly used, or capable of being used for the purpose of personal identification and bears the age of the holder or purported holder thereof, with the intention that such card, writing, paper or document, or photocopy print, photostat or other replica thereof, be used by a person under the age of 21 years to establish falsely or misrepresent his or her actual age for the purpose of purchasing alcoholic liquor or being served alcoholic liquor in a place where it is served for consumption on the premises, or entering gambling establishments, or engaging in gambling in gambling establishments, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. For the purposes of this subsection, the cards, writings, papers or documents and the photocopy prints or other replicas thereof which, although not designed for the purpose of personal identification, are commonly used, or capable of being used, for the purpose of personal identification, include, but are not limited to, an operator's license, chauffeur's license, fishing or hunting license, selective service card, organizational membership card, certificate of discharge from the Armed Forces, or certificate or other record of birth.

          2. Every person who sells, lends, gives away or offers, or attempts to sell, lend, give away or offer, any counterfeited, forged, altered, erased or obliterated card, writing, paper or document, or photocopy print, photostat or other replica thereof, of the kind mentioned in subsection 1, to a person under the age of 21 years, shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

          3. Every person under the age of 21 years who uses or attempts to use or proffers any counterfeited, forged, erased or obliterated card, writing, paper, document, or any photocopy print, photostat or other replica thereof, of the kind mentioned in subsection 1, for the purpose and with the intention of purchasing alcoholic liquor or being served alcoholic liquor in a place where it is served for consumption on the premises, or entering gambling establishments, or engaging in gambling in gambling establishments, or who actually purchases alcoholic liquor or is actually served alcoholic liquor in a place where it is served for consumption on the premises, or actually enters a gambling establishment or actually gambles therein, when the purchase, service, entering or gambling is induced or permitted by the presentation of any such card, writing, paper or document, or any photocopy print, photostat or other replica thereof, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

          4. In any criminal prosecution or proceeding for the suspension or revocation of any license based upon the violation of any law making it unlawful to sell, serve or furnish a person under the age of 21 years alcoholic liquor or upon violation of any law making it unlawful to allow a person under the age of 21 years to enter a gambling establishment or engage in gambling in a gambling establishment, proof that the defendant licensee, or his or her agent or employee, demanded and was shown, immediately before furnishing any alcoholic liquor to a person under the age of 21 years or allowing a person under the age of 21 years to enter a gambling establishment or engage in gambling in a gambling establishment, bona fide documentary evidence of the majority and identity of the person issued by a federal, state, county or municipal government, or subdivision or agency thereof, including, but not limited to, an operator's license for a motor vehicle, a registration certificate issued under the Federal Selective Service Act, or an identification card issued to a member of the Armed Forces, is a defense to the prosecution or proceeding for the suspension or revocation of any license.

    NRS 205.465 Possession or sale of document or personal identifying information to establish false status or identity; penalties; rebuttable inference that possessor of personal identifying information intended to unlawfully use such information.

          1. It is unlawful for a person to possess, sell or transfer any document or personal identifying information for the purpose of establishing a false status, occupation, membership, license or identity for himself or herself or any other person.

          2. Except as otherwise provided in subsection 3, a person who:

          (a) Sells or transfers any such document or personal identifying information in violation of subsection 1; or

          (b) Possesses any such document or personal identifying information in violation of subsection 1 to commit any of the crimes set forth in NRS 205.085 to 205.217, inclusive, 205.473 to 205.513, inclusive, or 205.610 to 205.810, inclusive,

    --> is guilty of a category C felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.

          3. A person who violates subsection 2 by:

          (a) Selling or transferring the personal identifying information of an older person or a vulnerable person;

          (b) Selling or transferring the personal identifying information of five or more persons; or

          (c) Causing another person to suffer a financial loss or injury of $3,000 or more as a result of the violation,

    Ê is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 20 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $100,000.

          4. Except as otherwise provided in this subsection and subsections 2 and 3, a person who possesses any such document or personal identifying information in violation of subsection 1 is guilty of a category E felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130. If a person possesses any such document or personal identifying information in violation of subsection 1 for the sole purpose of establishing false proof of age, including, without limitation, establishing false proof of age to game, purchase alcoholic beverages or purchase cigarettes or other tobacco products, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor.

          5. Subsection 1 does not:

          (a) Preclude the adoption by a city or county of an ordinance prohibiting the possession of any such document or personal identifying information; or

          (b) Prohibit the possession or use of any such document or personal identifying information by officers of local police, sheriff and metropolitan police departments and by agents of the Investigation Division of the Department of Public Safety while engaged in undercover investigations related to the lawful discharge of their duties.

          6. Proof of possession of the personal identifying information of five or more persons in a manner not set forth in NRS 205.4655 permits a rebuttable inference that the possessor intended to use such information in violation of this section.

  2. Fake IDs can be tough to identify, Las Vegas Sun (Feb. 3, 2001).
  3. NRS 205.460.
  4. NRS 205.465.
  5. NRS 205.460.
  6. NRS 205.465.
  7. NRS 62A-H.
  8. NRS 205.465; Woloson v. Sheriff, Clark County, 93 Nev. 283, 564 P.2d 603 ("[NRS 205.465] prohibits only the sale, transfer or possession of a document for the purpose of establishing a false identity. The word "purpose" denotes a willful intent just as the word "false" denotes an unlawful application."). 
  9. NRS 179.255.
  10. NRS 179.245.
  11. NRS 62H.130.
  12. 8 USC § 1227.

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