Fairfax Defense Attorney: George Mason Students Must Be Aware of These 4 Charges
George Mason (GMU) is an excellent university — the largest public research university in the Commonwealth of Virginia (approximately 34,000 students). It is a shame when good students find themselves in hot water due to a criminal charge.
We are a local Fairfax criminal law firm, and have represented many students over the years. Here, we list several common misdemeanor crimes that even good students can find themselves faced with. You can see a list of campus police activity online — See the February, 2017 crime/arrest report.
While data is unavailable so far for 2016, the 2016 Annual Report shows a slight uptick in liquor law arrests in 2015 when compared with 2014 (both on-campus and on-campus student housing categories) (See the Annual Report here)
4 Charges: Listed by Our Fairfax Defense Attorneys
- Possession of false identification (False ID)
- Giving false identity to law-enforcement officer
- Public Intoxication
- Underage Possession of Alcohol
While these are all misdemeanors, any criminal charge will remain on a student’s public permanent adult arrest record (unless it is eventually expunged). This can present issues when it comes school disciplinary action, student loans, and future job prospects.
Students are generally arrested by either the George Mason Campus Police, or, the Fairfax County Police Department — involved in some cases.
How are these charges handled in court?
Every case is different, and many factors come into play. The individual’s prior record is important, as is the student’s willingness to avoid future run-ins with law enforcement, and complete community service.
An attorney can fight the charge at trial, but whether it is a good idea is dependent upon the facts. It usually makes more sense for an attorney to prepare the client before the court date, and make an attempt to reach an agreement with the prosecutor to drop, or significantly reduce the charge and/or penalties (e.g., community service, drug or alcohol counseling, clean drug screen, etc.).
When a George Mason Student is charged with a crime discussed on this page, as Fairfax criminal defense attorneys, our firm typically will suggest completion of a specific number of hours of community service. Sometimes, we believe the student has been charged with a crime that will not hold up at trial, and community service is not suggested.
The goal in any case is to achieve a result that allows for expungmenet (sealing the public arrest record). Unfortunately, students are considered legal adults, and the consequences of actions, including criminal convictions, will last a lifetime. Therefore, it is necessary to build a legal defense to any charge, with a results-oriented approach.
False ID Virginia Law
GMU students who are not yet of age to purchase alcohol may be tempted to purchase a fake or fictitious identification card. Usually, these false ID’s are obtained online and come in the form of an out-of-state driver’s license.
Today’s students really are not doing anything different compared to generations past: for years, college students across the United States have been using fake ID’s to purchase alcohol and/or gain entry to bars or other establishments. But nowadays, it seems campus police and local County police departments are on the lookout more so than ever.
How Do Students Get Caught for Possession of False ID in Virginia?
Most students are motivated to purchase and use a false ID to purchase alcohol or, to gain entry to clubs and bars. Bouncers may confiscate these ID’s and notify authorities. Other times, law enforcement stops a student for some unrelated reason (such as a routine traffic stop), and they either try to use a fake ID, or the fake ID is found in their wallet or purse. Officers have little discretion when it comes to the decision to charge the individual with a crime.
Typically, students use online resources or go through another party (middleman), who supplies other students with ID’s. A decade ago, it was much more common for students to obtain these ID’s locally (or in D.C.) Nowadays, internet transactions are increasingly common, with some websites seemingly supplying the majority of fake ID’s.
Possession of False ID Law in Virginia
The following statute relates to possession of a false ID
46.2-346. Unlawful acts enumerated.
No person shall:
Display, cause or permit to be displayed, or have in his possession any driver’s license which he knows to be fictitious or to have been cancelled, revoked, suspended, or altered, or photographed for the purpose of evading the intent of this chapter;
Lend to, or knowingly permit the use of by one not entitled thereto, any driver’s license issued to the person so lending or permitting the use thereof;
Display or represent as his own any driver’s license not issued to him;
Reproduce by photograph or otherwise, any driver’s license, temporary driver’s permit, learner’s permit, or special identification card issued by the Department with the intent to commit an illegal act;
Fail or refuse to surrender to the Department, on demand, any driver’s license issued in the Commonwealth or any other state when the license has been suspended, cancelled, or revoked by proper authority in the Commonwealth, or any other state as provided by law, or to fail or refuse to surrender the suspended, cancelled, or revoked license to any court in which a driver has been tried and convicted for the violation of any law or ordinance of the Commonwealth or any county, city, or town thereof, regulating or affecting the operation of a motor vehicle.
Any law-enforcement officer empowered to enforce the provisions of this title may retain any driver’s license held in violation of this section and shall submit the license to the appropriate court for evidentiary purposes.
Using or Showing False ID to Police Officer
It is also a crime to attempt to use a false ID for purposes of identifying one’s self to law enforcement.
19.2-82.1. Giving false identity to law-enforcement officer; penalty.
Any person who falsely identifies himself to an officer with the intent to deceive — as to his real identity after having been lawfully detained and after being requested to identify himself by a law-enforcement officer — is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. A General District Court judge in Virginia has the authority to impose a sentence of up to 12 months in jail, as well as a $2,500 fine. If charged, it is important to speak with a local Fairfax criminal lawyer to gain an understanding of the likely penalty if convicted, and how to avoid or mitigate the consequences.
Public Intoxication / Drunk in Public:
While this is just a Class 4 misdemeanor, it may result in a trip to jail for many hours. To convict, the Commonwealth must prove one’s behavior/conduct was such that a reasonable person would find indicative of intoxication. Other factors, such as odor of alcohol, personal admissions, and breath test results are relevant. Unlike a Driving While Intoxicated charge, a PBT (handheld BAC test device) is admissible evidence in a criminal prosecution. (For DUI/DWI information, visit our Fairfax DUI Lawyer page).
Read about this charge in more detail.
18.2-388 – Virginia Public Intoxication Law
Profane swearing and intoxication in public; penalty; transportation of public inebriates to detoxification center
If any person profanely curses or swears or is intoxicated in public, whether such intoxication results from alcohol, narcotic drug or other intoxicant or drug of whatever nature, he shall be deemed guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. In any area in which there is located a court-approved detoxification center a law-enforcement officer may authorize the transportation, by police or otherwise, of public inebriates to such detoxification center in lieu of arrest; however, no person shall be involuntarily detained in such center.
Public intoxication is a Class 4 misdemeanor – meaning, upon conviction, there is no possibility of jail time – however, students arrested for this crime do have to go to jail for the night (usually), and a conviction remains on one’s record for life.
When charged with this offense, the facts and details surrounding the arrest usually are in one of two categories:
- not doing anything dangerous or outrageous other than being publicly intoxicated, such as falling asleep on a bench, etc. (and thus, the arrest is a public safety measure); or,
- the individual is displaying egregious, extreme behavior, and/or the charged individual was operating a motor vehicle but for one reason or another, law enforcement did not have enough evidence to obtain a warrant for driving while intoxicated (DWI).
Note: in Virginia, the term “DWI” and “DUI” are synonymous. For more information on Virginia DWI laws, read our article titled, 4 Things Virginia Drivers do Wrong Following a DWI or DUI .
In the worst situations, the individual is rude and/or violent with officers. It is important not to let things escalate, because assaulting an officer is a felony punishable by a mandatory minimum of 6 months in jail.
Depending on the facts of each case, it may or may not be realistic to have the charge dropped. Regardless of one’s assessment of what happened (following a charge), it is important to talk to an attorney. Public intoxication is a pre-payable offense, but by doing so, a permanent criminal conviction attaches for life. For a consultation, visit our contact page or call us.
Underage Possession of Alcohol
When is there enough evidence for a conviction of this statute?
The courts have held that there is sufficient evidence for conviction if there is proof that:
- The defendant was under the age of 21;
- There was an odor of alcoholic beverage emanating from the accused person’s body;
- An “Alcosensor” (or, PBT) test showed the presence of alcohol in the subject’s system; and,
- The accused admitted to the officer he/she consumed an alcoholic beverage earlier that day. (See Hale v. Commonwealth, 23 Va. App. 587, 478 S.E.2d 710 (1996).
The above example is only one case, and certainly, there are other factual scenarios which could give rise to an underage alcohol possession charge.
4.1-305. Purchasing or possessing alcoholic beverages unlawful in certain cases; venue; exceptions; penalty; forfeiture; deferred proceedings; treatment and education programs and services.
No person to whom an alcoholic beverage may not lawfully be sold under § 4.1-304 shall consume, purchase or possess, or attempt to consume, purchase or possess, any alcoholic beverage, except (i) pursuant to subdivisions 1 through 7 of § 4.1-200; (ii) where possession of the alcoholic beverages by a person less than 21 years of age is due to such person’s making a delivery of alcoholic beverages in pursuance of his employment or an order of his parent; or (iii) by any state, federal, or local law-enforcement officer or his agent when possession of an alcoholic beverage is necessary in the performance of his duties. Such person may be prosecuted either in the county or city in which the alcohol was possessed or consumed, or in the county or city in which the person exhibits evidence of physical indicia of consumption of alcohol. It shall be an affirmative defense to a charge of a violation of this subsection if the defendant shows that such consumption or possession was pursuant to subdivision 7 of § 4.1-200.
No person under the age of 21 years shall use or attempt to use any (i) altered, fictitious, facsimile or simulated license to operate a motor vehicle, (ii) altered, fictitious, facsimile or simulated document, including, but not limited to a birth certificate or student identification card, or (iii) motor vehicle operator’s license, birth certificate or student identification card of another person in order to establish a false identification or false age for himself to consume, purchase or attempt to consume or purchase an alcoholic beverage.
Any person found guilty of a violation of this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor; and upon conviction, (i) such person shall be ordered to pay a mandatory minimum fine of $500 or ordered to perform a mandatory minimum of 50 hours of community service as a condition of probation supervision and (ii) the license to operate a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth of any such person age 18 or older shall be suspended for a period of not less than six months and not more than one year; the license to operate a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth of any juvenile shall be handled in accordance with the provisions of § 16.1-278.9. The court, in its discretion and upon a demonstration of hardship, may authorize an adult convicted of a violation of this section the use of a restricted permit to operate a motor vehicle in accordance with the provisions of subsection E of § 18.2-271.1 or when referred to a local community-based probation services agency established pursuant to Article 9 (§ 9.1-173 et seq.) of Chapter 1 of Title 9.1. During the period of license suspension, the court may require an adult who is issued a restricted permit under the provisions of this subsection to be (a) monitored by an alcohol safety action program, or (b) supervised by a local community-based probation services agency established pursuant to Article 9 (§ 9.1-173 et seq.) of Chapter 1 of Title 9.1, if one has been established for the locality. The alcohol safety action program or local community-based probation services agency shall report to the court any violation of the terms of the restricted permit, the required alcohol safety action program monitoring or local community-based probation services and any condition related thereto or any failure to remain alcohol-free during the suspension period.
Any alcoholic beverage purchased or possessed in violation of this section shall be deemed contraband and forfeited to the Commonwealth in accordance with § 4.1-338.
Any retail licensee who in good faith promptly notifies the Board or any state or local law-enforcement agency of a violation or suspected violation of this section shall be accorded immunity from an administrative penalty for a violation of § 4.1-304.
When any adult who has not previously been convicted of underaged consumption, purchase or possession of alcoholic beverages in Virginia or any other state or the United States is before the court, the court may, upon entry of a plea of guilty or not guilty, if the facts found by the court would justify a finding of guilt of a violation of subsection A, without entering a judgment of guilt and with the consent of the accused, defer further proceedings and place him on probation subject to appropriate conditions. Such conditions may include the imposition of the license suspension and restricted license provisions in subsection C. However, in all such deferred proceedings, the court shall require the accused to enter a treatment or education program or both, if available, that in the opinion of the court best suits the needs of the accused. If the accused is placed on local community-based probation, the program or services shall be located in any of the judicial districts served by the local community-based probation services agency or in any judicial district ordered by the court when the placement is with an alcohol safety action program. The services shall be provided by (i) a program licensed by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, (ii) certified by the Commission on VASAP, or (iii) by a program or services made available through a community-based probation services agency established pursuant to Article 9 (§ 9.1-173 et seq.) of Chapter 1 of Title 9.1, if one has been established for the locality. When an offender is ordered to a local community-based probation services rather than the alcohol safety action program, the local community-based probation services agency shall be responsible for providing for services or referring the offender to education or treatment services as a condition of probation.
Upon violation of a condition, the court may enter an adjudication of guilt and proceed as otherwise provided. Upon fulfillment of the conditions, the court shall discharge the person and dismiss the proceedings against him without an adjudication of guilt. A discharge and dismissal hereunder shall be treated as a conviction for the purpose of applying this section in any subsequent proceedings.
When any juvenile is found to have committed a violation of subsection A, the disposition of the case shall be handled according to the provisions of Article 9 (§ 16.1-278 et seq.) of Chapter 11 of Title 16.1.
Read our underage possession of alcohol information page.
Other Laws Related to Alcohol
Va Code 16.278.9 – applicable to juveniles
VA Code 4.1-306 – Purchasing alcoholic beverages for one to whom they may not be sold
VA Code 4.1-307 – persons by whom alcoholic beverages may not be sold or served on premises consumption
4.1-308 – Drinking alcoholic beverages, or offering to another, in public places (and exceptions)
4.1-309 – Drinking or possessing alcoholic beverages in or on public school grounds
Manufacture/Sale of False ID:
This law prohibits/covers manufacturing, selling, and even merely advertising for sale a false identification. It is a class 1 misdemeanor. This law also encompasses possession (or transmission via facsimile), which is a Class 2 misdemeanor.
(Class 1 misdemeanors are punishable by up to 12 months in jail, whereas a Class 2 misdemeanor is punishable by up to 6 months in jail).
18.2-204.2 – Manufacture, sale, etc., or possession of fictitious, facsimile or simulated official license or identification; penalty
Except as provided in subsection D of § 18.2-204.1, it shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture, advertise for sale, sell or possess any fictitious, facsimile or simulated driver’s license issued by any state, territory or possession of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or any foreign country or government; United States Armed Forces identification card; United States passport or foreign government visa; Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles special identification card; official identification issued by any other federal, state or foreign government agency; or official university or college student identification card, or in any way reproduce any identification card or facsimile thereof in such a manner that it could be mistaken for a valid license or identification of any type specified in this subsection.
Any person manufacturing, advertising for sale, selling or reproducing such card or facsimile thereof shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Any person possessing any such card or facsimile thereof shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.
The provisions of this section shall not preclude an election to prosecute under § 18.2-172, except to prosecute for forgery or uttering of such license or identification card or facsimile thereof as proof of age.
George Mason criminal defense attorney lawyer for students
Vincenzes Law is a Fairfax Criminal Law Firm dedicated to helping people from all levels of society. Given the Firm’s proximity to the campus of George Mason University, dedication to the service of the criminal justice needs and interests of the school’s students is paramount to our mission.
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