California Vehicle Code Section 14610(a) VC: Unlawful Use or Alteration of a License

1. Definition and Elements of the Crimelicense alteration

A driver’s license is a critical item that fills a number of different purposes. A physical driver’s license is the primary form of identification for most people who rely on it to cash checks, board airplanes and gain admission into nightclubs. However, there may be situations where a person uses a driver’s license in an inappropriate fashion or alters it. Under California Vehicle Code Section 14610(a) VC, the unlawful use or alteration of a license is a criminal offense that can carry significant penalties.

A defendant can violate California Vehicle Code Section 14610(a) VC in the following ways:

  1. Displaying or causing or permitting to be displayed or have in the defendant’s possession any canceled, revoked, suspended, fictitious, fraudulently altered or fraudulently obtained driver’s license.

  2. Lending the defendant’s driver’s license to any other person or knowingly permitting the use thereof by another.

  3. Displaying or representing any driver’s license not issued to the defendant as being his or her license.

  4. Failing or refusing to surrender to the DMV upon its lawful demand any driver’s license which has been suspended, revoked or canceled.

  5. Permitting any use of a driver’s license issued to the defendant.

  6. Photographing, Photostatting, duplicating, or in any way reproducing any driver’s license or facsimile thereof in such a manner that it could be mistaken for a valid license, or displaying or possessing any such photograph, Photostat, duplicate, reproduction, or facsimile unless authorized by law.

Under the statute, a driver’s license includes a temporary permit to operate a motor vehicle.

2. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License - California Vehicle Code Section 14601 VC
  2. Unlawful Use of Identification CardsCalifornia Vehicle Code Section 13004 VC
3. Examples

After being convicted of driving under the influence in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) VC, a man receives notice from the DMV that his driving privileges have been suspended and that he must surrender his physical driver’s license to the DMV. The man chooses to ignore this demand and continues to keep his old license. One day the man is stopped by police and provides the suspended license as identification. This man could be charged with unlawful use of a driver’s license in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 14610(a) VC.

In another example, a man’s license is suspended pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 40508 VC after he fails to appear in court on a traffic ticket. The man is not aware of this suspension because the DMV sent notice to the wrong address. This man would not be criminally liable under California Vehicle Code Section 14610(a) VC because he was never given notice of the suspension, which would be required under the statute.

4. Defenses to Unlawful Use or Alteration of a License

As described above, a defendant must have notice that a driver’s license has been suspended or revoked in order to be criminally liable under this statute. If the prosecution cannot establish that the defendant knew of the suspension, he or she would not be guilty of this offense.

5. Penalties

Unlawful use or alteration of a driver’s license under California Vehicle Code Section 14610(a) VC is a misdemeanor level offense. Those convicted of this offense can be sentenced to serve up to 180 days in jail in addition to court fines and any other conditions of probation that a judge may elect to impose.

6. Criminal Defense for Unlawful Use or Alteration of a License Cases

Unlawful use or alteration of a driver’s license is a criminal offense that can be committed inadvertently, such as when one fails to surrender a physical driver’s license following a suspension. If you or a loved one have been accused of this crime, it is very important that you go over your case with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who now works hard to defend those charged criminally with offenses of this nature.

For more information about unlawful use or alteration of a license, 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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