Is it legal to make novelty IDs that imitate official state documents?

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Is it legal to make novelty IDs that imitate official state documents?

The IDs in question are sold with large (removable) stickers. The sticker on the front reads “Novelty Use Only: Return this Product for Refund if You Have Other Plans” and, on the back, more general advice: “Use wisely, safely, and legally.” We also advise customers, when we give them the physical novelty card, with a packet of information about when it is illegal to use a novelty card (e.g. to buy products when underage). Is it legal, given these conditions, to sell such cards?

Asked on June 27, 2011 under Business Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, it is almost certainly NOT legal. The product you describe would almost certainly be construed as a counterfeit or false ID, subjecting not just the holder, but also the manufacturer and purveyor, to various significant criminal penalties. A removable sticker does not even begin to overcome this problem, and indeed, could make matters worse for you--since the fact that sticker is removable could be taken to indicate that you knew full well you were providing illegal IDs but were attempting, rather transparently, to avoid liability by putting a sticker on them--a sticker which, since it's easily removable, does not impede the illegal use of the IDs. Thus, the sticker could be offered to show you had criminal state of mind-- a knowledge that what you were doing was wrong.


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