California Vehicle Code Section 20 VC: Providing False Statements To The DMV Or CHP

1. Definition and Elements of the Crimefalse statements

When a person is stopped by an officer of the California Highway Patrol, or is interacting with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, he or she is typically asked to provide various pieces of information. Just as it is a crime to provide false identification to a police officer under California Penal Code Section 148.9 PC, it is also illegal to provide false identification or false information to the CHP or DMV under California Vehicle Code Section 20 VC.

To prove a defendant is guilty of providing false information to the DMV or CHP, a prosecutor must be able to establish that the defendant either:

  1. Used a false or fictitious name
  2. Knowingly made any false statement
  3. OR knowingly concealed

any material fact in any document filed with the Department of Motor Vehicles or the California Highway Patrol.

2. Related Offenses

Similar offenses include the following:

  1. False Identification to Police - California Penal Code Section 148.9 PC
  2. False Information to a Peace Officer - California Vehicle Code Section 31 VC
  3. Perjury - California Penal Code Section 118 PC
  4. Forgery of a Driver's License - California Penal Code Section 470A PC
  5. Possessing a Fake Driver's License - California Penal Code Section 470B PC
  6. Forging or Possessing a Fraudulent Public Seal - California Penal Code Section 472 PC
  7. Fraudulent Vehicle Registration - California Vehicle Code Section 4463
3. Examples

A man is applying for a driver's license at the Department of Motor Vehicles. The man is not a United States citizen and does not have a valid social security number. When filling out the form, he is asked to provide a social security number. The man uses a fake number that was previously provided to him. The man could be prosecuted for making a false statement to the DMV under California Vehicle Code Section 20 VC. In addition, if the man signed the form under penalty of perjury, which is usually the case, the man could be charged with the more serious felony offense of perjury pursuant to California Penal Code Section 118 PC.

In another example, a man goes to the DMV to get a new driver's license. He is asked to fill out a form requesting personal identifying information, including weight. The man is ashamed of his weight so he writes in a number that is 20 pounds lighter than his actual weight. The man would not be criminally liable for providing false information to the DMV because his misrepresentation would not be considered "material" as is required by the statute and he did not intend to deceive the DMV when he underreported his weight.

4. Defenses to Providing False Statements to the DMV or CHP

There may be situations in which a person inadvertently submits false information to the DMV or CHP. In these situations, a defendant would not be guilty under California Vehicle Code Section 20 VC, as this offense requires that a defendant knowingly make a false statement or knowingly conceal a material fact. In these cases, a defendant would have a strong accident defense if charged with this offense.

5. Penalties

Providing false statements to the DMV or CHP under California Vehicle Code Section 20 VC is a misdemeanor offense that is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 court fine. As mentioned above, this offense may often be charged along with more serious felony charges like perjury or forgery that can result in lengthy prison sentences for those convicted. In addition, this type of offense is considered a crime of dishonesty that may be used as impeachment evidence in any future court case.

6. Criminal Defense for Providing False Statement to the DMV or CHP

If you have been charged with providing false statements to the DMV or CHP it is very important that you consult with a knowledgeable Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut possesses the knowledge and experience required to successfully defend charges like this. Mr. Kraut works hard to ensure his clients receive the best representation possible.

For more information about providing false statements to the DMV or CHP, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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