What federal criminal charges am I facing for purchasing novelty IDs? 26 Answers as of July 12, 2013

My friends and I ordered novelty ids from China. Customs intercepted the package. Two federal agents came to my friends house today. He wasnt there, and they told his mom that if we cooperate nothing will happen to us. What should we do, and what kind of trouble are we looking at?

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Bloom Legal, LLC
Bloom Legal, LLC | Seth J. Bloom
In Louisiana this crime is referred to as 'Unlawful production, manufacturing, distribution, or possession of fraudulent documents for identification purposes'. The penalties for possession are less strict than those for production, manufacturing, and distribution but are still: Fines of up to $500 and/or jail time of up to 6 months. It may be possible for you to negotiate a deal for reduced charges and/or sentencing with prosecutors in return for identifying the source of the IDs. Every case is different though, and before agreeing to any sort of deal or plea you should consult with a local criminal defense attorney who will be able to advise you of the potential advantages or pitfalls. If you are seeking legal representation in this matter in Louisiana, we invite you to contact our firm at the information on this page for a free case evaluation.
Answer Applies to: Louisiana
Replied: 5/26/2011
Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
While it's impossible to inform you of exactly what you're looking at, it could be serious if the FBI is looking into it. I suggest you consult as soon as possible with a criminal lawyer who deals in federal defense work. Do so before speaking with the agents since anything you say can and will be used against you in court. Also, do not lie to the Feds as that is a crime in itself. Speak to the lawyer now. Good luck.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 5/26/2011
Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law | Jules Fiani
These are questions that you should ask your lawyer, if he/she cannot answer them for you then it may be time to find a new one.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 5/25/2011
Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
First, what do you mean by novelty id's? What was the purpose for purchasing them? Were they purchased from a legitimate business? What is the nature of the investigation? In other words, who are they investigating. As for possible federal charges, again, without more information the question cannot be answered.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 7/12/2013
Nelson & Lawless
Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
First, exercise the 5th Amendment right to SHUT UP and do NOT talk to anyone except an attorney about the case. That includes on this or any other web site or public forum. Most police and prosecutors will happily tell you that 95% of people convict themselves by trying to be 'helpful and cooperative', either during initial contact, questioning, interview or interrogation. Your attorney can talk with police and determine what you need to do, and what problems you are in. Novelty IDs would mean cartoonish, obviously not intended seriously, and would not be illegal. Law enforcement wouldnt be investigating novelties. If arrested, youll learn the actual charge[s] filed against you when you appear for arraignment at your first court hearing. Youll then know the potential penalties and prison time you face. Now, What can you do? Hire an attorney, unless you know how to effectively represent yourself in court against a professional prosecutor intending to convict. No amount of free 'tips and hints' from here or anywhere else are going to effectively help you in your defense, If serious about hiring counsel to help you in this, and if this is in SoCal courts, feel free to contact me.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/25/2011
    Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
    Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
    I would need further details as there could be more than 1 charge they could bring and could be fairly serious since federal crimes are more serious than state generally. You should hire an attorney and then get the exact charges against you.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 5/25/2011
    Law Offices of Scott G. Hilderman
    Law Offices of Scott G. Hilderman | Scott G. Hilderman
    You should talk to a lawyer immediately so he can help you cooperate with customs.
    Answer Applies to: Montana
    Replied: 5/25/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    There are a number of potential federal charges, but without knowing more facts, it is difficult to guess which charges are possible. I would recommend you retain a criminal lawyer with experience in federal court to discuss all the facts, along with your rights and options. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 5/25/2011
    Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson
    Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson | Michael E. Hendrickson
    Do nothing until you have more information. If you become a target of an investigation or are formally charged, then, of course, get a lawyer (one who practices in federal court).
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 5/25/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    You should not go talk to the fed's without an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/24/2011
    Howard W. Collins, Attorney at Law
    Howard W. Collins, Attorney at Law | Howard W. Collins
    I do not operate in the Federal Courts so you need to find someone who likes to try cases against the Feds. They are a pain in the rear, so I would advise you get an attorney NOW before talking to the detective or agent. If they promise you something ask for it in writing. You won't get it, but at least they will know that you are smart enough to want to hold them to a deal. Get a lawyer, now.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 5/24/2011
    The Grigsby Firm
    The Grigsby Firm | Sherlock Grigsby
    Do not speak with any agents, police or anyone else without getting a lawyer first if you believe they could question you about some alleged violation of the law.
    Answer Applies to: District of Columbia
    Replied: 5/24/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    You should hire legal counsel before peaking with authorities. Anytime federal investigators are asking questions the matter is very serious. Moreover, law enforcement officers have no duty to tell you the truth which means they can tell you that if you cooperate, nothing will happen, and still have charges filed when you do cooperate. Since the unlawful contraband was sent through the mail it makes it a federal issue. There are no federal charges that are not extremely serious.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 5/24/2011
    Law Office of Raymond J. Dague, PLLC
    Law Office of Raymond J. Dague, PLLC | Raymond J. Dague
    You should get an attorney to assist you on this, but the feds will probably not do anything to you if you help them out. Assuming that the contraband is not really bad stuff (like kiddie porn, drugs, guns, etc.) they are often more interested in their investigation than in chasing you. But you dare not do this on your own. Use an attorney who has dealt with the feds before, and be sure you have immunity for anything you tell them.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 5/24/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts | Andrew Stephen Roberts
    Get an attorney ! Don't say anything until you have spoken with an attorney. You may be told one thing and then hit with charges.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/24/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    Do not trust the authorities. If you admit to anything, you will surely get charged! Hire your own attorney ASAP and speak to no one else.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/24/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    He is most likely lying to you in order to get you to make admissions. He knows that just because something is mailed to your address it is not enough proof that you knew or ordered it. It could be the wrong address or someone could have used your mailbox intending to get it before you were able to get your mail. He knows that the courts allow him to lie to you in order to get a statement or confession. If you were one of the few to be smart enough to say nothing then you should retain an attorney to deal with the issue. If there are several people in the home the authorities cannot prove who ordered the fake IDs and you may be able to avoid being charged. If you are charges with a federal crime you will face jail time and very large legal fees, but you will likely be eligible for a public defender. If you are young and just wanted to get into a bar then the prosecutor and judge will probably allow you to plead to a reduced charge and get probation. You will have a criminal record unless you are under 19 in which case you will be eligible for Youthful Offender Treatment. You violate federal law anytime you use the mail to commit a crime and federal crimes are very serious. I have 27 years experience in federal court and I believe I could have the charges dismissed. Call me anytime for a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 5/24/2011
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC
    Law Office of Rankin Johnson IV, LLC | Rankin Johnson IV
    Do not talk to the police! Or customs, or ATF, or the marshals, or the FBI, or whoever comes to talk to you. I don't know what charges you're facing. No one does, except maybe whoever is investigating the case. But if you admit anything to the police, that can be used against you at trial. The chance it will help you is very, very small, and the chance it will hurt you is substantial. If the police talk to you, say "I don't want to talk to you. I want a lawyer." Say that until they stop asking questions. If they ask to look in your house or your car or your pockets or backpack, say "I don't want to talk to you. I don't consent to a search. I want a lawyer." If they look anyway, you can't stop them. If they threaten to arrest you, you can't stop them. There is really no way for you to know if they have a strong case against you, or a weak case, or no case, but you can turn no case into a strong one by talking to them. Don't do it. If you must know, hire a lawyer and have your lawyer talk to the customs agents or the federal prosecutor. You'd be better off if your friends hired lawyers, too, but advising your friends to do anything like that is close enough to witness tampering that you should not do it without talking to a lawyer first. The authors of the Constitution thought the right not to talk to the police was so important that they wrote the Fifth Amendment about it. Use your Fifth Amendment rights, and don't talk to the police without a lawyer's help.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 5/24/2011
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