Whether you are trying to save a little extra cash or just don’t want to deal with the DMV, you might be tempted to counterfeit your license registration sticker or paperwork rather than properly registering your car with the state and getting official tags, license plates, or smog certification. Unfortunately, what may seem like a quick way to save money and hassle can easily result in felony criminal charges that carry up to three years of prison time. If you are accused of using fraudulent vehicle registration tags or documents, immediately contact a criminal defense attorney to help you fight these serious charges.
Vehicle Registration Fraud in California
Under California Vehicle Code section 4463 (VC), falsifying, forging, or counterfeiting vehicle registration stickers, license plates, or registration documents is an act of fraud. Examples include:
- creating a fake smog certificate because you know your vehicle would fail
- stealing registration stickers from another vehicle and putting them on your car
- using an altered, forged, or otherwise fake registration sticker
- intentionally putting the wrong license plate on an automobile to avoid registering it with the DMV
Most people are charged with registration fraud for having a registration sticker not matching the vehicle; however, some people may also face charges for making false statements to the Department of Motor Vehicles, charged under California Vehicle Code 20 (VC). Examples of false statements include:
- misrepresenting the year of your vehicle so you can get around smog laws
- understating the value of your vehicle when registering it to reduce the amount of taxes you must pay on the car
- registering your car in another state, despite living in California, to avoid paying California’s registration fees and taxes
Penalties for California Vehicle Code 4463 (VC) and 20 (VC)
Many believe that DMV fraud could only result in traffic tickets or similar infractions, but these criminal offenses can leave you behind bars. 4463 (VC) is a wobbler offense, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. As a misdemeanor, it’s punishable by up to 1 year of jail time, and as a felony, it carries a prison sentence of up to 3 years.
Providing false information to the DMV under 20 (VC) is a less serious offense, punishable by up to 6 months in county jail.
If you are convicted of any of these charges, the DMV may also choose to suspend your driver’s license.
Fighting Fraudulent Car Registration Charges in California
Anyone accused of these crimes should contact San Diego fraudulent vehicle registration stickers attorney as soon as possible to start building a strong case on their behalf. One of the strongest defenses to these charges is to show you did not have the intent to defraud the DMV. For example, if you own two cars and accidentally switched the registration stickers when you put them on the vehicle, you cannot be convicted of vehicle registration fraud. Similarly, if you misremembered the year of your vehicle when filling out a registration card, your criminal defense lawyer could argue this was an honest mistake, not fraud.
If you have been accused of using fraudulent vehicle registration stickers or participating in any other type of DMV fraud, call your criminal defense attorneys immediately, no matter the specifics of your crime. San Diego criminal defense lawyer Peter M. Liss can help you. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free consultation.