California Vehicle Code 13004.1 VC
(Manufacturing or Selling Counterfeit Identification Cards)

Vehicle Code 13004.1 VC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to manufacture or sell counterfeit, or fake, California State identification cards. This section states that

A person shall not manufacture or sell an identification document of a size and form substantially similar to, or that purports to confer the same privileges as, the identification cards issued by the department.

Examples of illegal acts under this code section include:

  • Elisa makes fake ID cards and sells them to minors so that they can purchase alcohol.
  • Jose sells his friend a fake identification card so that the friend can use it to try and trick an insurance company.
  • Barb sells a counterfeit ID card to a person (that is without a driver's license) so that the person can try to clear a TSA checkpoint at the airport.

Luckily, there are several legal defenses that a person can raise if accused of a crime under this section. These include showing that an accused:

Penalties

A violation of California Vehicle Code 13004.1 is charged as a misdemeanor (as opposed to a California felony or an infraction). The crime is punishable by:

  • a fine between $250 and $1,000; and,
  • 24 hours of community service.

In place of these penalties, a judge may punish a defendant with:

  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year; and,
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.

Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

california counterfeit license
California Vehicle Code 13004.1 VC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to manufacture or sell counterfeit, or fake, California State identification cards.

1. What is the legal definition of manufacturing or selling a counterfeit identification card?

California Vehicle Code 13004.1 VC says that it is a crime if a person either manufactures or sells a counterfeit, or fake, identification card.1

The DMV issues identification cards, or ID cards, to persons of any age. The cards look like a driver's license but are used for identification purposes only.

We must note that for an accused to be liable for this crime, there must be a fraudulent purpose behind his actions. This means a purpose that is intended to deceive or trick another person.2

2. What are the legal defenses?

A person accused can challenge the accusation by raising a legal defense. A good defense can often get a charge reduced or even dismissed. Please note, though, that it is critical for an accused to hire an attorney to get the most effective defense.

Three common defenses are:

  1. no intent to defraud;
  2. duress; and/or,
  3. unlawful search and seizure.

2.1. No intent to defraud

Recall that a person violated 13004.1 VC only if he acts with fraudulent purposes. It is a valid legal defense, therefore, for a defendant to show that he did not make or sell a fake ID card to deceive or trick a person. For example, it is quite possible that he simply made a fake ID card to give to another person as a gag gift.

2.2. Duress

To best understand this defense, think of a case where a bank robber holds a pedestrian at gunpoint and tells him to get into a running car and drive them away.

Duress is a legal defense in which an accused basically says: “He made me do it.” The defense applies to the very limited situation in which a person commits a crime (here, the manufacturing or selling of an identification card), because somebody threatened to kill him if the crime was not committed.

2.3. Unlawful search and seizure

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution declares that we have the right to be free from unreasonable “searches and seizures” by law enforcement. If authorities obtain evidence from an unreasonable, or unlawful search and seizure, then that evidence can get excluded from a criminal case. This means that any charges in the case could get reduced or even dismissed.

The Fourth Amendment's rule against unreasonable search and seizures means that police may not search a person or his property unless one of the following is true:

  1. they have obtained a valid search warrant from a judge, OR
  2. the search falls within one of a number of exceptions to the warrant requirement recognized by federal and California courts.3
man behind bars
A violation of this law can result in a fine and/or a jail time...

3. Penalties, Punishment, and Sentencing

A violation of California Vehicle Code 13004.1 is charged as a misdemeanor. The crime is punishable by:

  • a fine between $250 and $1,000; and,
  • 24 hours of community service.4

In place of these penalties, a judge may punish a defendant under VC 13004.1 with:

  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year; and,
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.5

Please note that in lieu of jail time a judge may order a defendant to misdemeanor probation. This is also called “summary” or “informal” probation.

4. Related Offenses

There are three crimes related to the manufacturing and selling of counterfeit identification cards. These are:

  1. unlawful use of identification cards – VC 13004;
  2. forging or counterfeiting a driver's license or identification card – PC 470(a); and,
  3. having a fake driver's license or identification card – PC 470(b)

4.1. Unlawful use of identification cards – VC 13004

California Vehicle Code 13004 VC applies to the unlawful use of driver's licenses and ID cards.

Acts prohibited by Vehicle Code 13004 include:

  • possessing a canceled, fake, fraudulently altered or fraudulently obtained ID card (including a California driver's license),
  • lending someone else your ID card or knowingly letting another person use it;
  • using someone else's ID card as your own;
  • permitting the unlawful use of your ID card;
  • creating a fake ID card, or
  • unlawfully altering an ID card.6

A violation of VC 13004 is charged as a misdemeanor. It is punishable by:

  • up to six months in county jail, and or
  • a fine of up to $1,000.7

4.2. Forging or counterfeiting a driver's license or identification card – PC 470(a)

California Penal Code 470(a) PC makes it a crime for a person to forge or counterfeit a driver's license or identification card.

Penal Code 470 PC, California's forgery law, defines “forgery” as knowingly altering, manipulating, or creating a written document or instrument with the intent to obtain an undeserved personal gain.8

Counterfeiting” is defined as altering, manipulating, or creating an imitation of an item intending to pass it off as genuine.

Penal Code 470(a) PC is a wobbler offense, meaning that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

If charged as a misdemeanor, the crime is punishable by:

  • up to one year in county jail; and/or,
  • a maximum $1,000 fine.

If charged as a felony, the crime is punishable by 16 months, or two or three years in the California state prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.

4.3. Having a fake driver's license or identification card – PC 470(b)

California Penal Code 470(b) PC makes it a crime to either display or possess any fake identification, with the intent to use that fake ID to commit a forgery.9

“Intent to use that fake ID to commit a forgery” means an intent to use the ID to commit fraud—that is, deceive another person, in order to cause loss or damage to a legal, financial, or property right.10

Commission of a crime under Penal Code 470(b) is what is known as a California “wobbler.”

This means that it can be charged as either a California misdemeanor or a California felony, depending on the circumstances.11

The misdemeanor penalties for this crime are up to one year in county jail, and/or a fine of up to $1,000.12

The potential felony penalties are sixteen months, two years or three years' imprisonment, and/or a fine of up to $10,000.13

Were you accused of manufacturing or selling a counterfeit identification card in California? Call us for help…

california counterfeit id criminal defense attorneys
Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime under California Vehicle Code 13004.1, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We can be reached 24/7 at 855-LawFirm.

Legal References:

  1. California Vehicle Code 13004.1 VC. This code section provides: “(a) A person shall not manufacture or sell an identification document of a size and form substantially similar to, or that purports to confer the same privileges as, the identification cards issued by the department.

    (b) A violation of this section is a misdemeanor punishable as follows:

    (1) The court shall impose a fine of not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) and not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), and 24 hours of community service, to be served when the person is not employed or is not attending school. No part of the fine or community service shall be suspended or waived.

    (2) In lieu of the penalties imposed under paragraph (1), the court, in its discretion, may impose a jail term of up to one year and a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000). In exercising its discretion, the court shall consider the extent of the defendant's commercial motivation for the offense.

    (c) Prosecution under this section shall not preclude prosecution under any other applicable provision of law.”

  2. People v. Bollaert, 248 Cal. App 4th 699.

  3. E.g., Riley v. California (2014) 134 S.Ct. 2473, 2482. (“In the absence of a warrant, a search is reasonable only if it falls within a specific exception to the warrant requirement.”).

  4. California Vehicle Code 13004.1(b)(1) VC.

  5. California Vehicle Code 13004.1(b)(2) VC.

  6. California Vehicle Code 13004 VC.

  7. California Vehicle Code 40000.11 VC.

  8. California Penal Code 470 PC.

  9. California Penal Code 470(b) PC.

  10. Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (“CALCRIM”) 1921

  11. California Penal Code 470b PC.

  12. See same.

  13. See same.

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