The world is starting to open back up. Mask mandates are being lifted in certain regions and travel is becoming more common for a lot of people around the world. But there’s one thing holding a lot of people back from taking an international excursion – an expired passport. Going through the process of renewing your passport can be tedious. You have to take a new photo, update your address, update any changes to your legal name, and play the waiting game. Cutting corners at any stage of this process could have serious repercussions.
The first offense for purposefully lying on your passport application – resulting in a fraudulent passport – is a fine of $250,000 and a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison. However, if you accidentally put the wrong gender or missed your Social Security number by a couple of digits, you won’t have too much to worry about. So, where is the line drawn?
What Is the Difference Between a Simple Mistake and an Outright Lie on a Passport?
The differentiating factor between a mistake and a lie on your passport comes down to whether you knowingly made a false statement on your passport application. For example, if someone uses a different last name on their application because they’re trying to evade a warrant by leaving the country, it’s going to raise a red flag with the U.S. government. However, if you accidentally put down the wrong date of birth by one day, the passport office will make note of the error, send back your passport, and ask you to fix the date.
Passport fraud is viewed as a serious criminal offense in the U.S. If you are facing charges, regardless of how they came about, it’s imperative that you seek legal defense as soon as possible.
Common Reasons for the Use of Fraudulent Passports
There are a few reasons that people try to lie on passport applications or create fake passports. In most cases, it’s related to a fugitive trying to leave the country as fast as possible – before the federal government can regain custody. Here are some of the top reasons people commit passport fraud:
- Financial Fraud – if a person has embezzled a large sum of money, they may try to quickly change their name on a passport in order to move the funds to a different bank account in another country. This is a popular motive in white-collar crimes and, unfortunately, has created “red flags” when money is moved in conjunction with updates to your passport – whether or not your motivations were criminal in nature.
- Trafficking – human trafficking is a serious issue when it comes to international travel. If the suspect of a trafficking case makes numerous international trips to and from the U.S., they’ll try to get their hands on a fake form of identity. Otherwise, they’d be taken into custody upon entry into the country. This illegal action can be done by obtaining a fraudulent passport to try and make it past U.S. customs. Because of this, the suspect could face fraudulent passport charges on top of the trafficking charges.
- Identity Theft – if you’re able to obtain a passport with someone else’s name on it, the chance of gaining access to other accounts is much higher. That’s why the government takes identity theft and passport fraud so seriously. While you may not have stolen a stranger’s identity, just using the passport of a family member who is close in age and appearance is enough land you with charges for identity theft.
- Shortcut to Citizenship – the U.S. government has made the process of obtaining citizenship quite difficult. Because of this, immigrants who are desperate to achieve citizenship and permanent work opportunities may try to create a fraudulent passport to act as proof of citizenship so they can begin working in the U.S. permanently.
Legal Representation for Passport Fraud
If an error was found on your passport and you are worried that your actions could be connected to one of the above motives, Brad Bailey Law is here to help. Our award-winning firm has assisted numerous clients with passport fraud accusations. Contact our team today to get the legal representation you deserve!