California Vehicle Code Section 13004 VC: Unlawful Use Of Identification Cards
1. Definition and Elements of the Crime
Lawfully issued identification cards, such as driver’s licenses, are important documents that serve many critical functions. These cards are usually the only form of identification that a person carries with them at all times. As a result of their importance, improper or unlawful use of identification cards can subject a person to criminal penalties under California Vehicle Code Section 13004 VC.
A defendant would violate California Vehicle Code Section 13004 VC by committing any of the following acts:
- Displaying, causing or permitting to be displayed or possessing any cancelled, fictitious, fraudulently altered or fraudulently obtained identification card
- Lending his or her identification card to someone else or knowingly permitting the use of the card by another
- Displaying or representing any identification card not issued to the defendant
- Permitting any unlawful use of a lawfully issued identification card
- Photographing, duplicating or reproducing any identification card in such a manner that it could be mistaken for a valid identification card.
- Unlawfully altering an identification card.
2. Related Offenses
Other similar or related offenses include:
- Forgery of a Driver’s License – California Penal Code Section 470A PC
- Possessing a Fake Driver’s License - California Penal Code Section 470B PC
- Manufacturing or Selling Counterfeit Identification Cards - California Vehicle Code Section 13004.1 VC
- Forging or Possessing a Fraudulent Public Seal – California Penal Code Section 472 PC
A woman knows that her younger sister, who is under 21, wants to go out with her friends to a nightclub that checks identification for all patrons and requires that all patrons be 21 or older. Because the sisters look so much alike, the woman lends her driver’s license to her sister, who uses it to get into the nightclub. Both sisters could be charged with unlawful use of an identification card in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 13004 VC in this fact scenario.
In another example, a rental car company requires its representatives to make a photocopy of a customer’s driver’s license whenever someone rents a car. An employee making these photocopies would not be guilty of unlawful use of an identification card, even though duplicating identification cards is specifically prohibited by statute. This is because the photocopy would not produce a duplicate likely to be mistaken for a real license and there would be no fraudulent purpose in making the photocopy of the card.
4. Defenses to Unlawful Use of Identification Cards
There may be many circumstances where this offense is committed unintentionally, such as where a person picks up someone else’s identification card by mistake or provides his or her identification card to another without realizing it. In these situations, the defendant would have a strong accident defense if charged criminally with unlawful use of an identification card.
In addition, as discussed above, if the defendant did not have an intent to defraud and had a legitimate purpose for copying or altering an identification card, that defendant would not be criminally liable for this offense.
Unlawful use of an identification card is a misdemeanor under California Vehicle Code Section 13004 VC. Defendants convicted of this offense can be sentenced to up to six months in jail, substantial court fines, and any other conditions of probation that a judge may deem appropriate.
6. Criminal Defense for Unlawful Use of Identification Cards Cases
Unlawful use of identification cards is a criminal offense that may have been committed inadvertently but can have far-reaching consequences for those convicted. As a result, it is very important that you meet with an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer if you or a loved one have been accused of this offense. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut is highly experienced at handling these types of cases. In many cases, Mr. Kraut’s early involvement in a case before charges have been filed can result in the criminal charges being significantly reduced and sometimes even dismissed altogether. Mr. Kraut works tirelessly on behalf of his clients to ensure they receive the absolute best representation possible.
For more information about unlawful use of identification cards, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group 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.