Is Possessing Someone Else's ID a Crime in Utah?

Identification cards (IDs) are very powerful tools. You need them to open bank accounts, vote, and get a passport, among other things. If you have someone else's ID, you can perform all those tasks, and more, under their name. Unfortunately, if you have nefarious intentions, you could cause long-term damage to the other person. For instance, if you take out a loan using another's ID, and you consistently fail to make timely payments, you might ruin the other individual's credit score.

Because possessing someone else's ID can have detrimental impacts, having one on you is a crime. And, it's a separate offense from identity fraud.

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What Is an ID?

To understand what type of conduct constitutes a crime under Utah's unlawful possession of another's identification documents law, it's helpful to know what is considered an ID.

You might think that an ID is either a driver's license or another government-issued identification card, and you're right. It is both of those things. But it is also much more.

The law says that an identifying document is any of the following:

  • Government-issued document;
  • Vehicle registration;
  • Any document containing personal identifying information, such as date of birth, address, phone number, or mother's maiden name

Additionally, an ID can be either a counterfeit document or that of a person who has died.

What Are the Charges for Possessing Someone Else's ID?

Three separate situations exist when possessing another person's identifying document is a crime. What distinguishes them is the number of IDs a person has in their possession. The quantity also determines the level of charge levied.

The circumstances that can result in criminal charges include:

  • Possessing 2 or fewer IDs of others: If you have 1 or 2 IDs in your possession and you know they don't belong to you or you have them with the intent to defraud another, you can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. You may also face this level of charge if you help someone else obtain another's ID and you know they aren't entitled to possess it or they intend to use it to deceive or defraud someone else. The penalties for this level include a maximum jail term of 364 days and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
  • Possessing more than 2 but less than 100 IDs of others: The circumstances that result in a charge are the same as those for possessing 1 or 2 IDs. The only difference is the number of identifying documents in your possession. The offense is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
  • Possessing 100 or more IDs of others: Again, the circumstances that constitute a crime in the earlier situations are the same as for this one – only the number of IDs increases. If you are accused of violating this section of the law, you can be charged with a second-degree felony. A conviction may result in up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Is Possessing Someone Else's ID Different from Identity Fraud?

As mentioned earlier, possessing another's ID is distinct from identity fraud. In fact, the subsections enumerated under in the unlawful possession statute explicitly state that an offense is committed only if it does not "constitute a violation of Section 76-6-1102 (identity fraud)."

What differentiates unlawful possession of another's ID from identity fraud is the intent. Identity fraud occurs when someone,"with fraudulent intent," knowingly uses or attempts to use another's personal identifying information. In contrast, possessing another's ID is a crime even if the individual who had the document did not use it. However, to be in violation of the law, they must have had the intent to defraud.

If you've been charged with an offense in Salt Lake City, contact Lokken & Putnam, P.C. at (801) 829-9783 as soon as possible. Our criminal defense lawyers have extensive experience and will fight hard toward a favorable outcome on your behalf.