Identification documents fall into two categories: (A) "genuine" or (B) "false." Neither type is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 1028. The types may even overlap at times.
- Genuine Documents -- The term "genuine" is not used in section 1028 but is used here to refer to those authentic identification documents actually made or issued under the authority of a governmental entity. It includes genuine blank documents (i.e., blank forms not yet filled in).
- False Documents -- The term "false identification document" is used throughout section 1028 but is not defined in the section. The term is intended to include counterfeit, forged, or altered identification documents as well as apparent identification documents which seem to have been issued by a government authority, even though that authority may not issue an identification document of that particular type. This concept would also apply when an identification document purports to be issued by a governmental entity, which in fact does not actually exist. See Pines v. United States, 123 F.2d 825 (8th Cir. 1941). "Counterfeit" implies an unauthorized reproduction of an original document, which would include a blank. "Altered" would be the unauthorized changing of a material fact contained in the document. "Forged" would relate to the unauthorized execution of the document such as filling in a genuine blank identification document without authority. It is possible for a document to be "genuine" and "false" at the same time (e.g., a genuine driver's license is stolen and the driver's name is altered; a genuine birth certificate blank form is stolen and is filled in without authorization).
Updated June 9, 2015