California Vehicle Code Section 31 VC: False Information To A Peace Officer

1. Definition and Elements of the Crimefalse information

Sometimes, people interacting with law enforcement officers may feel tempted to mislead or outright lie to the officer by providing false information. However, under California Vehicle Code Section 31 VC, it is a criminal offense to provide false information to a peace officer. Specifically, the statute prohibits any person from giving information, either orally or in writing, to a peace office in the performance of his duties with knowledge that the information is false.

This offense can apply to the following situations:

  1. Giving a false name when asked for identification
  2. Showing a fake ID or someone else’s ID
  3. Presenting a forged car registration or forged insurance documents
  4. Providing a false answer to questions asked by police
2. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. False Identification to Police - California Penal Code Section 148.9 PC
  2. Providing False Statements to the DMV or CHP - California Vehicle Code Section 20 VC
  3. Forgery of a Driver's License - California Penal Code Section 470A PC
  4. Possessing a Fake Driver's License - California Penal Code Section 470B PC
  5. Forging or Possessing a Fraudulent Public Seal - California Penal Code Section 472 PC
  6. Fraudulent Vehicle Registration - California Vehicle Code Section 4463
3. Examples

A man is shocked when he learns how expensive it will be to renew the registration for his new sports car. Instead of paying the registration, the man creates a replica of the California DMV registration papers on his computer and carries this around in his car. One day, the man is stopped for a routine traffic violation and is asked to provide license and registration. The man gives his forged registration papers to the officer. The man could be prosecuted for providing false information to a peace officer in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 31 VC. In addition, the man could be charged with several felony offenses, including forgery in violation of California Penal Code Section 472 PC.

A woman is pulled over by the police during a routine traffic stop. The officer asks the woman to give him her driver’s license so he can run her name. The woman reaches into her wallet and inadvertently grabs a novelty license card with her picture that identifies her as “California’s Best Mom.” She gives this novelty ID card to the officer by mistake. The woman would not be criminally liable for providing false information to a peace officer because she did not knowingly or intentionally deceive the officer.

4. Defenses to False Information to a Peace Officer

The crime of providing false information to a peace officer requires that the defendant knowingly and intentionally provide the false information. There are many situations in which this may be done inadvertently. When this occurs, the defendant may be able to raise an accident defense.

5. Penalties

Providing false information to a peace officer is a misdemeanor offense that is punishable by up to six months in jail, a $1,000 court fine and any other conditions of probation that a judge may deem appropriate. A conviction for this offense is considered a crime of dishonesty that can be used against the defendant as impeachment evidence in the future. In addition, someone accused of providing false information to a peace officer may potentially be charged with a variety of other offenses such as forgery under California Penal Code Section 472 PC (which is a felony) or providing false identification to police under California Penal Code Section 148.9 PC, depending of the factual circumstances involved.

6. Criminal Defense for False Information to a Peace Officer Cases

If you or someone you know have been charged with providing false information to a peace officer, it is very important that you discuss your options with a 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 is highly experienced at dealing with false information cases. Mr. Kraut is highly respected by law enforcement officers and prosecutors and often his early involvement in a case may help prevent charges from being filed altogether.

For more information about false information to a peace officer, 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 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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