California Vehicle Code 13004 VC prohibits the unlawful use of an identification card (such as possessing a fake ID or lending your ID for someone else to use). The offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and fines of up to $1000.00.
The full text of the law reads that:
It is unlawful for any person:
13004. (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.
- a person 18 years of age showing a bouncer his older brother’s ID card to get into a club.
- an adult giving a minor his/her ID so that the minor can purchase alcohol.
- a person using a photostat to reproduce his/her identification card and sell the copies to others.
Our criminal defense lawyers advise clients that there are three effective defenses to allegations under this statute. These are the defendant showing that he/she:
- did not “possess” a fake identification card,
- did not know another person was using his/her ID, and
- was charged because of police misconduct.
A violation of California Vehicle Code Section 13004 is charged as a misdemeanor. This is in contrast to:
The crime is punishable by:
- custody in county jail for up to six months, and/or
- a maximum fine of $1,000.
Our California criminal defense attorneys will discuss the following in this article:
- 1. What does Vehicle Code 13004 VC prohibit?
- 2. Are there legal defenses?
- 3. What are the penalties?
- 4. Can a person get an expungement?
- 5. Are there related offenses?
1. What does Vehicle Code 13004 VC prohibit?
California Vehicle Code 13004 VC sets forth a variety of crimes relating to the unlawful use of an identification card. These unlawful acts include:
- displaying or possessing any canceled, fictitious, fraudulently altered, or fraudulently obtained I.D. card,
- lending another person a valid identification card or knowingly allowing another person to use it,
- using someone else’s I.D. card,
- photographing, duplicating, or in any way reproducing an identification card so that it is mistakable for a valid I.D. card, and
- otherwise altering an identification card in any unlawful way.1
2. Are there legal defenses?
A defendant can employ one of three common defenses to challenge allegations under this statute. These include the accused showing that he/she:
- did not possess a fake identification card.
- did not know that another person was using his/her ID.
- was a victim of police misconduct.
2.1 No possession
Recall that a person can be charged under these laws with the unlawful possession of a fake or canceled ID. Further, “possession” has a very precise legal definition under California criminal law. Therefore, a defendant can always raise the defense that he/she never had possession of a fake ID card.
2.2 No knowledge
Note too that a person is guilty under this statute for knowingly allowing someone else to use his/her identification card. A valid defense, then, is for an accused to show that he/she never knew that another person used his/her ID. Perhaps, for example, the other person stole the defendant’s identification card.
2.3 Police misconduct
It is always a defense under VC 13004 for a defendant to show that he/she was charged with a crime only because police officers engaged in misconduct. Examples of misconduct include:
3. What are the penalties?
A violation of this statute is a misdemeanor offense.
Criminal charges are punishable by:
- imprisonment in county jail (as opposed to state prison) for up to six months, and/or
- a maximum fine of $1,000.2
A judge has the discretion to award a defendant with misdemeanor (or summary) probation in lieu of jail time.
4. Can a person get an expungement?
A person convicted of the unlawful use of an ID card can get the conviction expunged, per California Penal Code Section 1203.4.
This is true provided that the defendant successfully completes:
- his/her jail term, or
- probation (whichever was imposed).
5. Are there related offenses?
There are three other laws related to this statute. These are:
- forging or counterfeiting a driver’s license or ID card – PC 470a,
- displaying or possessing a counterfeit driver’s license or ID card – PC 470b, and
- manufacturing or selling counterfeit identification cards – VC 13004.1.
5.1 Forging or counterfeiting a driver’s license or ID card – PC 470a
Penal Code 470a PC is the California statute that prohibits a person from forging a driver’s license or ID card.
Note that if a person allows someone else to forge his/her own ID card, that person could be charged under both:
- PC 470a, and
- VC 13004.
5.2 Displaying or possessing counterfeit driver’s license or ID card – PC 470b
California Penal Code 470b PC makes it a crime to possess or display a fake ID or a fake driver’s license for the purpose of deceiving or defrauding another person.
Note that unlike with VC 13004, a prosecutor has to prove that someone defrauded another person to establish guilt under this statute.
5.3 Manufacturing or selling counterfeit identification cards – VC 13004.1
Vehicle Code 13004.1 VC is the statute that makes it a crime for a person to manufacture or sell counterfeit or fake California state identification cards.
Note that while VC 13004 primarily focuses on real ID cards, the provisions of this code involve fake cards.
For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, we invite you to contact our law firm at the Shouse Law Group. Our attorneys provide free consultations, and they represent clients throughout California, including those in Los Angeles and Los Angeles County, Long Beach, Pasadena, Burbank, Glendale, Santa Monica, Santa Clarita, and Torrance.
- California Vehicle Code 13004 VC.
- California Penal Code 19 PC.