Vehicle Identification Number also referred to as VIN, is used to permanently identify the vehicle on the road. It can be both a motor number, a serial number, or other distinguishing information. Its main purpose is a registration of the motor vehicle in the Department of Motor Vehicles, DMV, or its tracking.
VIN is usually placed both in visible places on the motor vehicle, such as on a metal plate which is attached to the dashboard of the vehicle, as well as the engine frame or other hidden places. Under California Law, it is considered a crime to intentionally or knowingly alter or destroy a vehicle identification number (VIN) and or misrepresent or hide the identity of the vehicle for the purpose of selling or transferring it.
Vehicle Code section 10802 Tampering with a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
California Law criminalizes several actions that aim to hide or destroy VIN for different purposes. This article will examine California Vehicle Code section 10802 tampering with a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
What Actions are Prohibited Under Vehicle Code Section 10802?
To charge the defendant for violation of VC section 10802, the prosecutor shall prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the following actions have been committed with the VIN:
The defendant (1) knowingly altered, destroyed, disguised, falsified, forged, removed, defaced, or counterfeited a VIN; (2) with the intent to: misrepresent the identity of, or prevent the identification of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle part; (3) for the purpose of: transfer, sale, import or export.
What are the Penalties for a Vehicle Code 10802 Conviction?
California Vehicle Code section 10802 is known as a “wobbler offense”, as such, it can either a be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Penalties for a misdemeanor Vehicle Code section 10802 conviction will differ from a felony VC 10802 conviction.
Penalties for a Misdemeanor Vehicle Code section 10802 Conviction
A misdemeanor Vehicle Code section 10802 conviction carries the following penalties:
- imprisonment in a county jail for a term up to one year; and/or
- a fine in the amount of up to $1000
Penalties for a Felony Vehicle Code section 10802 Conviction
A felony Vehicle Code section 10802 conviction carries the following penalties:
- imprisonment in a county jail for a term of 16 month, two year, or three years; and/or
- a fine in the amount of up to $25000
The type of conviction is generally decided based on the facts of the case and the history of the offender.
What Are the Possible Defenses for a Vehicle Code Section 10802 Offense
Possible defenses for a vehicle code section 10802 offense may be
You Defaced the VIN Accidentally
For example, you wished to replace your dashboard and accidentally damaged the VIN. This technique can be used as a defense method as there has been no intent or purpose to commit the violation described in section 10802.
Someone Has Previously Changed the VIN Prior to You Acquiring the Vehicle
You Didn’t Alter the VIN so That it Could be Sold
For example, you tried to hide the stolen car, by damaging its VIN, though you did not have the purpose to export or to sell the car to a third party.
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Glendale
If you or a loved one has been charged with VC 10802 we invite you to contact our Glendale criminal defense attorney today at (310) 943-1171, for a free consultation and case review.