Vehicle Code 4462.5 VC is the California statute that addresses false vehicle registration. This section makes it a misdemeanor for a motorist to present police with a registration card that was not issued for the vehicle that the motorist was driving. The statute also makes it a misdemeanor for a motorist to display license plates that were not issued for the vehicle.
More specifically, the law states that a "person shall not display upon a vehicle, nor present to any peace officer, any registration card, identification card, temporary receipt, license plate, temporary license plate...or permit not issued for that vehicle or not otherwise lawfully used thereon under this code." (See Vehicle Code 4462 VC)
- a driver showing police a false registration card after a stop for speeding
- putting a license plate on a car that was issued for another vehicle
- a motorist giving an officer a false permit after a stop for a red light violation
Being cited does not necessarily mean the change will hold up in court. Common defenses are to show that:
- the accused had no intent to break the law,
- the defendant presented valid registration, and
- there was no probable cause for the traffic stop.
The offense is punishable by:
- custody in county jail for up to six months, and/or
- a maximum fine of $1,000.
A judge can award misdemeanor (or summary) probation in lieu of jail time.
Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:
- 1. When is it a crime to present a false vehicle registration?
- 2. Can a person get a 4462.5 VC charge dismissed?
- 3. What is the potential jail time and fine?
- 4. Does this lead to the deportation of a noncitizen?
- 5. Will this give a person a criminal record?
- 6. Does a conviction affect gun rights?
- 7. Are there related offenses?
1. When is it a crime to present a false vehicle registration?
Vehicle Code 4462 says that it is against the law if a motorist shows police an invalid:
- registration card,
- identification card,
- license plate,
- temporary license, or
“Invalid” means that the card or permit was not issued for the vehicle the motorist was driving.1
The statute also makes it a crime for a motorist to display a false license plate.2 A false plate is one that was not issued for the vehicle the accused was driving.
VC 4462.5 says that the above offenses are misdemeanors when done with the intent to evade the law.3
2. Can a person get a 4462.5 VC charge dismissed?
Defense lawyers draw on several legal strategies when contesting charges under these laws. Some include showing that:
- the defendant had no intent to break the law.
- the accused presented valid evidence of registration.
- the police officer stopped the defendant without probable cause.
2.1. No intent to break the law
A defendant is only guilty under these laws if he acts with the intent to break the law. This means it is a valid defense for an accused to show that he did not act with this intent. Perhaps, for example, an accused showed a false registration or ID on accident.
2.2. Valid evidence of registration
It is a crime under this statute if:
- the defendant showed the police evidence of registration, and
- that registration was not issued for the accused's vehicle.
A defense, then, is for the accused to show that he/she presented valid evidence of registration.
2.3. No probable cause
The police must have probable cause before stopping someone for a traffic offense. “Probable cause” means that they reasonably believe a person committed a traffic violation. If no probable cause, then any subsequent evidence of a crime (like failing to show proof of registration) can be dismissed.
The dismissal of evidence can lead to charges being reduced or dropped.
3. What is the potential jail time and fine?
A violation of this law is a misdemeanor.
The offense is punishable by:
- custody in county jail (as opposed to state prison) for up to six months, and/or
- a maximum fine of $1,000.4
4. Does this lead to the deportation of a noncitizen?
A conviction under this statute will not have negative immigration consequences.
Note that some criminal convictions can result in deportation of non-citizen defendants.5
For example, a conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude may produce this result.
But a VC 4462.5 conviction will not make a person deportable.
5. Will this give a person a criminal record?
Yes. 4462.5 CVC is a misdemeanor. A conviction does give a person a criminal record. But most people can get an expungement at the end of the case.
A judge will grant an expungement if a convicted party successfully completes:
- probation, or
- his jail term (whichever was imposed).
6. Does a conviction affect gun rights?
A conviction under this statute will not impact a person's gun rights.
California law says that some crimes (e.g., felonies) will result in a defendant losing his right to:
- own a gun, or
- possess a gun.
Showing false registration, though, is not one of these crimes.
7. Are there related offenses?
There are three crimes related to presenting false registration. These are:
- misuse of handicap placards or license plates – VC 4461,
- vehicle registration fraud – VC 4463, and
- forged disabled parking placards – VC 4463b.
7.1. Misuse of handicap placards or license plates – VC 4461
Vehicle Code 4461 VC is the State's law against misusing a handicap placard or license plate.
VC 4461 prohibits misuse of a disability parking placard or license by:
- knowingly allowing someone else to use it,
- displaying a disabled placard or plates that
- have been canceled or revoked, or
- were issued to someone else, or
- 3. parking in a designated disabled parking space if not disabled.
7.2. Vehicle registration fraud – VC 4463
Vehicle Code 4463 VC imposes criminal penalties for fraud or forgery involving:
- vehicle registration certificates,
- vehicle registration stickers,
- vehicle license plates, and
- vehicle smog test certificates.
Specifically, the law prohibits the following:
- altering or falsifying vehicle registration materials,
- displaying or possessing blank or counterfeit vehicle registration materials, and
- passing as true any false or altered vehicle registration materials.
7.3. Forged disabled parking placards – VC 4463b
Vehicle Code 4463b VC is the State's law against disabled parking placard fraud.
The statute makes it a crime for a person to do any of the following:
- forge or falsify a disabled person placard,
- pass as true a false disabled person placard, knowing that it is false or forged, or
- acquire or offer for sale a genuine or counterfeit disabled person placard.
For additional help...
For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.
California Vehicle Code 4462 VC.
California Vehicle code 4462.5a VC.
California Vehicle Code 4462 VC. See also California Penal Code 19 PC.