Vehicle Code 42002.5 VC – Tampering with the Vehicle of a Disabled Person

Vehicle Code 42002.5 VC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to tamper with the vehicle of a disabled person.

According to this statute:

“…every person convicted of a violation of Section 10852 or 10853 involving a vehicle that has been modified for the use of a disabled veteran or any other disabled person and that displays a special identification license plate…or a distinguishing placard…, if those facts are known or should reasonably have been known to the person, shall be punished by a fine of not more than two thousand dollars ($2,000) or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or by both the fine and imprisonment.

Examples of illegal acts under this code section include:

  • while walking home from a bar, Nate sees a car with a disabled placard, he forces open a door and rummages through the auto's glove box.
  • Paco sees a van on the street with a disabled license plate, and he pries open the side door and takes several selfies.
  • Marsha views her neighbor's car, with a disabled placard, and decides to ransack the auto for laughs.

Defenses

Luckily, there are several legal defenses that a person can raise if accused of a crime under Vehicle Code 42002.5. These include showing that the defendant:

Penalties

A violation of VC 42002.5 is charged a misdemeanor (as opposed to an infraction or a felony). The offense is punishable by:

  • a maximum fine of $2,000, and/or
  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year.

Note that in lieu of jail time, a judge may award a defendant with misdemeanor (or summary) probation.

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

disabled parking placard

1. What is prohibited under California Vehicle Code 42002.5 VC?

Vehicle Code 42002.5 VC is the California statute that says it is a crime for a person to tamper with the vehicle of a disabled person.1

A prosecutor must prove four things to successfully convict an accused under this code section. These are:

  1. the defendant was convicted of either tampering with a vehicle (under 10852 VC) or malicious mischief to a vehicle (under VC 10853),
  2. the conviction involved a vehicle that was modified for use by a disabled person,
  3. the vehicle displayed either a disabled placard or special disabled license plate, and
  4. the defendant knew that the vehicle was modified for a disabled person.2

2. Are there legal defenses to accusations of violating VC 42002.5?

If a person is accused of a crime under this statute, then he can challenge the accusation by raising a legal defense. A good defense can often get a charge reduced or even dismissed.

Three common defenses to VC 42002.5 accusations are:

  1. no knowledge,
  2. falsely accused, and/or
  3. necessity.

2.1. No knowledge

A defendant cannot be found guilty under this statute unless he knew that the vehicle he tampered with had been modified for a disabled person. Therefore, it is always a perfect legal defense for a defendant to show that he did not have this requisite knowledge.

2.2. Falsely accused

Unfortunately, it is not at all uncommon for people to get prosecuted based on false allegations. People get falsely accused out of:

  • jealousy,
  • revenge, and
  • anger.

Thus, it is a valid defense for a defendant to say that a party falsely accused him of violating Vehicle Code 42002.5.

2.3. Necessity

Under a necessity defense, a defendant essentially tries to avoid guilt by showing that he had a sufficiently good reason to commit the crime. People sometimes refer to this defense as “guilty with an explanation.” In the context of tampering with the vehicle of a disabled person, an accused could attempt to show that he committed the crime since he had no other choice (e.g., because of an emergency).

gavel resting on money

3. Penalties, punishment, and sentencing

A violation of VC 42002.5 is charged a misdemeanor. The offense is punishable by:

  • a maximum fine of $2,000, and/or
  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year.3

Note that in lieu of jail time, a judge may award a defendant with misdemeanor (or summary) probation.

4. Related Offenses

There are three crimes related to tampering with the vehicle of a disabled person. These are:

  1. failing to stop and submit to inspection – VC 42002.1,
  2. driving an overweight vehicle – VC 3551, and
  3. malicious mischief to a vehicle – VC 10853

4.1. Failing to stop and submit to inspection – VC 42002.1

Vehicle Code 42002.1 VC is the California statute that says it is a crime for a commercial driver to fail to stop and submit to an inspection of equipment.4

A violation of VC 42002.1 is a wobblette offense, meaning it can be charged as either an infraction or a misdemeanor. The penalties for the crime may include:

  • a maximum fine of $50, and/or
  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to five days.5

These penalties can increase if a defendant has multiple convictions under the statute.

4.2. Driving an overweight vehicle – VC 3551

Vehicle Code 3551 is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to drive a vehicle that exceeds a specified weight.6

In most cases, driving an overweight vehicle is a misdemeanor under California law.

The potential penalties are:

  • misdemeanor (summary) probation,
  • up to six months in county jail, and/or
  • a fine of up to $1,000.7

4.3. Malicious mischief to a vehicle – VC 10853

California Vehicle Code 10853 VC is the California statute that makes it a crime to commit malicious mischief to a vehicle.8

California law provides that a person commits “malicious mischief” to a vehicle if he defaces, damages, or destroys the vehicle without the owner's consent.

A violation of VC 10853 is charged as a misdemeanor. The crime is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in a county jail for up to six months, and/or
  • a fine of up to $1,000.9

Were you accused of tampering with the vehicle of a disabled person in California? Call us for help…

criminal defense attorneys
Call us at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime under Vehicle Code 42002.5 VC, 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 42002.5 VC. This code section states: “Notwithstanding Section 42002, every person convicted of a violation of Section 10852 or 10853 involving a vehicle that has been modified for the use of a disabled veteran or any other disabled person and that displays a special identification license plate issued pursuant to Section 5007 or a distinguishing placard issued pursuant to Section 22511.55 or 22511.59, if those facts are known or should reasonably have been known to the person, shall be punished by a fine of not more than two thousand dollars ($2,000) or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or by both the fine and imprisonment.”

  2. See same.

  3. See same.

  4. California Vehicle Code 42002.1 VC.

  5. See same.

  6. California Vehicle Code 3551 VC.

  7. California Penal Code 19 PC.

  8. California Vehicle Code 10853 VC.

  9. California Penal Code 19 PC.

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