Unlawful Acts Involving Identification Cards
California Vehicle Code 13004 VC

Charged with unlawfully using someone else's identification card?  With possessing or using a fraudulent or fake I.D. card?  With lending someone your identification card so he/she could purport to be you?  Do not despair, we are here to help.

In this article, our California criminal defense attorneys1 discuss the provisions of California Vehicle Code 13004 VC -- unlawful use of identification cards.

1. Vehicle Code 13004 VC - Unlawful Use of Identification Cards

California Vehicle Code 13004 VC sets forth a variety of crimes relating to the use of identification cards.  These unlawful acts include:

  • displaying, causing or allowing to be displayed, or possessing any canceled, fictitious, fraudulently altered, or fraudulently obtained I.D. card,
  • lending another person your identification card, knowingly allowing another person to use it, or allowing your card to be used in another unlawful manner,
  • using someone else's I.D. card as if it's your own,
  • photographing, duplicating, or in any way reproducing an identification card so that it is mistakable for a valid I.D. card (or possessing such a card), and
  • otherwise altering an identification card in any unlawful way.2

Examples

There are a number of ways to violate this California fraud law.  Some typical scenarios include (but are not limited to):

  • using someone else's identification card to pass yourself off as older (such as is the case with many "underage" young adults trying to get into clubs) or allowing your friend to use your I.D. for the same purpose,
  • using someone else's identification card (or a fraudulently created one) in conjunction with another crime (such as cashing someone else's checks.which could also lead to a variety of additional charges, such as


  • and using another person's I.D. card in order to try to avoid hassles (if, for example, you are an undocumented alien or have a warrant out for your arrest).

Actually manufacturing or selling fraudulent identification cards is prohibited under a separate.and surprisingly.less serious law, Vehicle Code 13004.1 VC (discussed under Section 4. Related Offenses).3

∗Note that Vehicle Code 13004 states nothing about the I.D. card being a California I.D. card.  Committing any of the above unlawful acts with any identification card will subject you to this law if you commit the act in this state.

2. Legal Defenses

There are a variety of legal defenses to California's law against unlawfully using an identification card that a skilled California criminal defense lawyer can present on your behalf.  Some of these include (but are not limited to):

You didn't know someone else was using your I.D. card

If you are accused of lending someone else your identification card.or of knowingly allowing someone else to use it.the prosecutor must be able to prove that you knew someone else was using your card.

This means that if you didn't know someone else had your I.D. card (whether it was the actual card or a duplicate that was copied), you aren't guilty of this offense.  If someone took your card without your permission, it is they and not you who should be prosecuted.

You didn't intend to commit a fraud

In similar fashion, if you didn't intend to commit a fraud, you should be acquitted of this crime.  This means that if, for example, you honestly believed it was okay to

  • photocopy or duplicate your I.D. card for your own use, or


  • alter it to reflect changes,

you shouldn't be held criminally liable for your acts.

Police misconduct

Let's say that you are, in fact, guilty of this offense, but that the only reason that your illegal acts were discovered is because the cops engaged in police misconduct.  If, for example,

  • the police discovered your illegal activity while they were violating California's search and seizure laws (maybe they discovered the altered I.D. during an illegal search of your car), or
  • they only stopped you because they were engaged in illegal racial profiling,

your California defense lawyer could file a 1538.5 PC motion to suppress evidence to exclude any evidence of your illegal conduct that relates to the I.D. card.  When successful, a 1538.5 PC motion to suppress evidence will likely persuade the prosecuting attorney to either significantly reduce or even dismiss your charges.4

3. Penalties, Punishment, and Sentencing

Vehicle Code 13004 VC California's law against unlawfully using an identification card is a misdemeanor.5 This California misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in a county jail and a maximum $1,000 fine.

In addition, the court will most likely place you on informal probation for one to three years. California's probation laws subject you to any additional terms and conditions that the judge believes will aid in your rehabilitation.

With respect to this type of offense, the judge may impose community service and/or labor (such as Caltrans roadside work), although even these are optional at the judge's discretion.

4. Related Offenses

In addition to California Vehicle Code 13004 VC, there are a number of other laws that involve identification cards.  Some of these may be charged in addition to this offense - some may be charged in lieu of this offense.   Examples include (but are not limited to):

Penal Code 470a PC -- Forging or counterfeiting a driver's license or identification card

Penal Code 470a PC California's law against forging or counterfeiting a driver's license or identification card prohibits forging a driver's license or I.D. card.  Similar to Vehicle Code 13004.1 VC mentioned above, this offense relates to the actual manufacturing or forging of the cards.

This offense is more serious than Vehicle Code 13004 VC.  It is what's known as a wobbler.  A wobbler is an offense that the prosecutor may charge as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on

  1. the facts of the case, and
  2. your criminal history.

If convicted of this offense as a felony, you face 16 months, or two or three years in the California state prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.  If convicted of this offense as a misdemeanor, you face up to one-year in a county jail and a maximum $1,000 fine.6

Penal Code 470b PC -- Displaying or possessing counterfeit driver's licenses or I.D. cards

Very similar to California's law against unlawful acts involving I.D. cards is Penal Code 470b PC California's law against fake drivers licenses and ID cards.  If you display or possess a forged, counterfeit or otherwise fake identification card, prosecutors could elect to charge you with this more serious offense instead.

The penalties for violating this law are the same as those for Penal Code 470a PC.7

As Hemet criminal defense attorney Michael Scafiddi8 explains, "This is where having an experienced California criminal defense lawyer comes into play.  At the very least, a savvy attorney knows the most effective arguments to persuade the prosecutor that you should be charged with the lesser offense of Vehicle Code 13004 VC instead of this much more serious wobbler."

Vehicle Code 13004.1 VC -- Manufacturing or selling counterfeit identification cards

Another offense that is related to Vehicle Code 13004 VC is Vehicle Code 13004.1 VC California's law against manufacturing or selling identification cards.  This offense prohibits manufacturing or selling I.D. cards that are substantially similar to those issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

This misdemeanor subjects you to a straight $1,000 fine and a minimum 24 hours of community service.9

Penal Code 472 PC -- Forging, counterfeiting, or possessing fraudulent public seals

Displaying or possessing a fraudulent or altered I.D. card that bears a forged or counterfeit seal.such as the seal that would appear on a government issued identification card.subjects you to prosecution under Penal Code 472 PC California's law against forging, counterfeiting, or possessing a fraudulent public seal.

This offense is also a wobbler.  A felony subjects you to up to three years in the state prison and a maximum $10,000 fine and a misdemeanor subjects you to up to one year in a county jail and a maximum $1,000 fine.10

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If you or loved one is charged with Vehicle Code 13004 VC unlawful acts involving involving identification cards and you are looking to hire an attorney for representation, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We can provide a free consultation in office or by phone. We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.

You may also find helpful information in our related articles on California Fraud Laws; Identity Theft; Penal Code 470 PC California's Forgery Law; Penal Code 470a PC Forging or Counterfeiting a Driver's License or Identification Card; Penal Code 470b PC California's Law Against Displaying or Possessing a Forged or Counterfeit Driver's License or Identification Card; Vehicle Code 13004.1 VC Manufacturing or Selling Counterfeit Identification Cards; Penal Code 472 PC Forging, Counterfeiting, or Possessing Fraudulent Public Seals; Wobblers; Felonies; California Misdemeanors; and California Legal Defenses.

Legal References:

1Our California criminal defense attorneys have local Los Angeles law offices in Beverly Hills, Burbank, Glendale, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Pomona, Torrance, Van Nuys, West Covina, and Whittier.  We have additional law offices conveniently located throughout the state in Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.

2California Vehicle Code 13004 VC -- Unlawful acts.  ("It is unlawful for any person (a) To display or cause or permit to be displayed or have in his possession any canceled, fictitious, fraudulently altered, or fraudulently obtained identification card. (b) To lend his identification card to any other person or knowingly permit the use thereof by another. (c) To display or represent any identification card not issued to him as being his card. (d) To permit any unlawful use of an identification card issued to him. (e) To do any act forbidden or fail to perform any act required by this article. (f) To photograph, photostat, duplicate, or in any way reproduce any identification card or facsimile thereof in such a manner that it could be mistaken for a valid identification card, or to display or have in his possession any such photograph, photostat, duplicate, reproduction, or facsimile unless authorized by the provisions of this code. (g) To alter any identification card in any manner not authorized by this code.")

3California Vehicle Code 13004.1 VC -- Manufacture or sale of similar identification document prohibited; penalties.  ("(a) No person shall manufacture or sell an identification document of a size and form substantially similar to the identification cards issued by the department. (b) A violation of this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of one thousand dollars ($1,000), no part of which shall be suspended, and the person shall be required to perform not less than 24 hours of community service during hours when the person is not employed and is not attending school.")

4A California Penal Code 1538.5 PC motion to suppress evidence is a motion that your California criminal defense attorney will file where there are legitimate allegations of police misconduct.  Types of misconduct may include illegal search and seizures (in violation of California's search and seizure laws), planting evidence, or any other type of misconduct that deprives you of your Constitutional rights.

5California Vehicle Code 40000.11 VC -- Misdemeanors.  ("A violation of any of the following provisions is a misdemeanor, and not an infraction: (a) Division 5 (commencing with Section 11100), relating to occupational licensing and business regulations. (b) Section 12500, subdivision (a), relating to unlicensed drivers. (c) Section 12515, subdivision (b), relating to persons under 21 years of age driving, and the employment of those persons to drive, vehicles engaged in interstate commerce or transporting hazardous substances or wastes. (d) Section 12517, relating to a special driver's certificate to operate a schoolbus or school pupil activity bus. (e) Section 12517.45, relating to a special driver's certificate and vehicle inspection for the transportation of pupils to or from school-related activities by a passenger charter-party carrier as defined in subdivision (k) of Section 545. (f) Section 12519, subdivision (a), relating to a special driver's certificate to operate a farm labor vehicle. (g) Section 12520, relating to a special driver's certificate to operate a tow truck. (h) Section 12804, subdivision (d), relating to medical certificates. (i) Section 12951, subdivision (b), relating to refusal to display license. (j) Section 13004, relating to unlawful use of an identification card. (k) Section 13004.1, relating to identification documents. (l) Sections 14601, 14601.1, 14601.2, and 14601.5, relating to driving with a suspended or revoked driver's license. (m) Section 14604, relating to unlawful use of a vehicle. (n) Section 14610, relating to unlawful use of a driver's license. (o) Section 14610.1, relating to identification documents. (p) Section 15501, relating to use of false or fraudulent license by a minor.")

See also California Penal Code 19 PC -- Punishment for misdemeanor; punishment not otherwise prescribed.  ("Except in cases where a different punishment is prescribed by any law of this state, every offense declared to be a misdemeanor is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both.")

6California Penal Code 470a PC -- Forgery or counterfeiting of driver's license or identification card; intent; punishment.  ("Every person who alters, falsifies, forges, duplicates or in any manner reproduces or counterfeits any driver's license or identification card issued by a governmental agency with the intent that such driver's license or identification card be used to facilitate the commission of any forgery, is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year.")

See also California Penal Code 18 PC -- Punishment for felony not otherwise prescribed; alternate sentence to county jail.  ("Except in cases where a different punishment is prescribed by any law of this state, every offense declared to be a felony, or to be punishable by imprisonment in a state prison, is punishable by imprisonment in any of the state prisons for 16 months, or two or three years; provided, however, every offense which is prescribed by any law of the state to be a felony punishable by imprisonment in any of the state prisons or by a fine, but without an alternate sentence to the county jail, may be punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year or by a fine, or by both.")

See also California Penal Code 672 PC -- Offenses for which no fine prescribed; fine authorized in addition to imprisonment.  ("Upon a conviction for any crime punishable by imprisonment in any jail or prison, in relation to which no fine is herein prescribed, the court may impose a fine on the offender not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) in cases of misdemeanors or ten thousand dollars ($10,000) in cases of felonies, in addition to the imprisonment prescribed.")

7California Penal Code 470b PC -- Display or possession of forged driver's license or identification card; intent; punishment.  ("Every person who displays or causes or permits to be displayed or has in his possession any driver's license or identification card of the type enumerated in Section 470a with the intent that such driver's license or identification card be used to facilitate the commission of any forgery, is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year.")

See also California Penal Codes 18 and 672, endnote 6, above.

8Hemet criminal defense attorney Michael Scafiddi uses his former experience as an Ontario Police Officer to represent clients throughout the Inland Empire including San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, Banning, Fontana, Joshua Tree, Barstow and Victorville.

9California Vehicle Code 13004.1 VC -- Manufacture or sale of similar identification document prohibited; penalties, endnote 3, above.

10California Penal Code 472 PC -- Forging, counterfeiting, or possessing a fraudulent public sea.  ("Every person who, with intent to defraud another, forges, or counterfeits the seal of this State, the seal of any public officer authorized by law, the seal of any Court of record, or the seal of any corporation, or any other public seal authorized or recognized by the laws of this State, or of any other State, Government, or country, or who falsely makes, forges, or counterfeits any impression purporting to be an impression of any such seal, or who has in his possession any such counterfeited seal or impression thereof, knowing it to be counterfeited, and willfully conceals the same, is guilty of forgery.")

See also California Penal Code 473 PC -- Forgery; punishment. ("Forgery is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year.")

See also California Penal Codes 18 and 672, endnote 6, above.

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