California Vehicle Code § 42002.5 VC: Tampering With The Vehicle Of A Disabled Person

1. Definition and Elements of the Offensetampering with a wheelchair

Tampering with a vehicle under California Vehicle Code Section 10852 VC and malicious mischief to a vehicle in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 10853 VC are both misdemeanor offenses that make it illegal to unlawfully interfere with someone else’s motor vehicle. However, when the vehicle in question is one that has been modified for the use of a disabled person, this conduct constitutes a separate criminal offense under California Vehicle Code Section 42002.5 VC with increased penalties.

In order to prove that a defendant is guilty of tampering with the vehicle of a disabled person, the following elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant was convicted of a violation of California Vehicle Code Section 10852 VC or California Vehicle Code Section 10853 VC involving a vehicle that has been modified for the use of a disabled veteran or any other disabled person.
  2. The vehicle involved displayed a special identification license plate or a distinguishing placard.
  3. AND the defendant knew or reasonably should have known that the vehicle involved was modified for a disabled person or disabled veteran and displayed a special identification license plate or placard.
2. Related Offenses

Similar offenses include the following:

  1. Tampering with a Vehicle - California Vehicle Code Section 10852 VC
  2. Malicious Mischief to a Vehicle - California Vehicle Code Section 10853 VC
  3. Grand Theft Auto California Penal Code Section 487(d)(1) PC
  4. VandalismCalifornia Penal Code Section 594 PC
3. Examples

A group of friends are walking home from a bar one night when they notice a van that has been modified with ramps and other amenities to assist in the transport of disabled persons. The van has a disabled placard and license plates. The men force open a door of the vehicle and take numerous pictures of themselves in various poses in the van. In addition to being charged with tampering with a vehicle in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 10852 VC and malicious mischief to a vehicle pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 10853 VC , these men could also be prosecuted under California Vehicle Code Section 42002.5 VC.

In another example, a man is walking home one night when he sees an unusual van parked on the street. It is unlocked so he enters the driver’s side of the van and tries to start the vehicle, but is unsuccessful. This van is intended for the use of disabled veterans, however it does not have any disabled plates or placards. While this man may be guilty of malicious mischief to a vehicle , he would not be guilty under California Vehicle Code Section 42002.5 VC because the vehicle was not distinctively marked.

4. Defenses to Tampering with the Vehicle of a Disabled Person

As described above, the vehicle in question must display a special identification license plate or a distinguishing placard noticing that the vehicle is intended for the use of disabled persons in order for someone to be criminally liable of this offense. If no such plate or placard was visible, the defendant would not be guilty of this offense.

5. Penalties

In order to be guilty of tampering with the vehicle of a disabled person under California Vehicle Code Section 42002.5 VC, the defendant must first be convicted under either California Vehicle Code Section 10852 VC (tampering with a motor vehicle ) or California Vehicle Code Section 10853 VC ( malicious mischief to a vehicle ). These are both misdemeanors that are punishable by a maximum of six months in jail. However, the maximum sentence when the vehicle belongs to a disabled person is a full year in county jail. In addition, the sentence requires a minimum of ten days in jail for anyone convicted of this offense.

6. Criminal Defense for Tampering with the Vehicle of a Disabled Person Cases

If you have been accused of tampering with the motor vehicle of a disabled person, it is critical that you contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer immediately. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who understands how best to defend clients charged with crimes such as this.

For more information about tampering with the vehicle of a disabled person, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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