California Vehicle Code Section 4463 VC: Forging Or Falsifying Vehicle Registration
1. Definition and Elements of the Crime
Although it may sound like a minor offense, forging or falsifying vehicle registration information is a serious criminal offense under California Vehicle Code Section 4463 VC that can lead to felony charges and even prison sentences for those convicted.
The crime of forging or falsifying vehicle registration information under California Vehicle Code Section 4463 VC includes the following actions:
- Altering, forging, counterfeiting or falsifying registration cards and registration stickers.
- Displaying or possessing fraudulent or forged registration cards or registration stickers.
- Publishing or passing as true a forged registration card or sticker
There are a variety of actions that would be illegal under California Vehicle Code Section 4463 VC, including:
- Registering a vehicle with the wrong year to save money
- Stating a false value when registering a vehicle
- Registering a car in another state while living in California in order to avoid paying California taxes and registration fees.
- Using or forging false registration papers or stickers
- Using someone else’s valid registration stickers or papers.
2. Related Offenses
Similar offenses include the following:
- Forging or Possessing a Fraudulent Public Seal – California Penal Code Section 472 PC
- Providing False Statements to the DMV or CHP – California Vehicle Code Section 20 VC
- False Information to a Peace Officer – California Vehicle Code Section 31 VC
A man fails to renew the registration on his car in time and realizes that his stickers are out of date. He does not want to get a ticket, so he takes the registration stickers from his wife’s car and places them on his front and rear license plate. He fully intends to return the stickers to his wife after he finishes running some errands around town. The man is pulled over by police who realize that his registration stickers are for a different vehicle. The man could be charged with using false vehicle registration documents under California Vehicle Code Section 4463 VC.
In another example, a man buys a used vehicle that he found in an online advertisement. When purchasing the vehicle, the seller assures the man that the registration is valid and current. He provides the man with vehicle registration papers and stickers that look legitimate. A few months later the man is stopped by police on a routine traffic stop, who tell him that his registration and stickers are both fake. The man would not be criminally liable under California Vehicle Code Section 4463 VC because he did not knowingly use false or forged registration documents, and reasonably believed these items were legitimate.
4. Defenses to Forging or Falsifying Vehicle Registration
As described above, there are scenarios in which a person can inadvertently display or possess false or fraudulent registration documents or stickers, mainly due to the fact that they relied on representations made by someone else. In these situations, the defendant would lack the requisite criminal intent and would have a valid accident defense if charged criminally.
Forging or falsifying vehicle registration is a “wobbler” offense that can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. When making a filing decision, prosecutors will often evaluate factors such as the underlying factual circumstances in the particular case and whether or not the defendant has a criminal record. If charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant can be sentenced to up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. If charged as a felony, the defendant can be sentenced to up to three years in prison. In addition, those convicted of this offense can have their driver’s licenses revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
6. Criminal Defense for Forging or Falsifying Vehicle Registration Cases
If you or a loved one have been accused of forging or falsifying vehicle registration documents it is very important that you speak with a skilled Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who understands the severe consequences a conviction for this offense can carry. In many case, Mr. Kraut’s early involvement and intervention in a case pre-filing can help prevent felony charges from being filed.
For more information about forging or falsifying vehicle registration, 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.