False Statements to The DMV or CHP Explained

If you used a false or fake name at the DMV, you may have violated this section of the Vehicle Code.  Likewise, if you knowingly made a false statement, or knowingly concealed any material fact in a document that you filed with the DMV, you may be found guilty of this offense.

→ If convicted, you face being charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Defining a False Statement to the DMV or CHP

How Does the Prosecutor Prove False Statements to DMV or CHP?

To prove that you are guilty of this offense, the prosecutor has to prove the following facts or elements1:

  • The defendant used a false/fictitious name; OR

Example: The defendant, who is under 18 years old, applied for a driver’s license using a false name, so that he can present the license at clubs and liquor stores as his.  He also falsely stated in the application that he is over the age of 18 years old.  The defendant can be charged with the offense, because he unlawfully used a false name and knowingly submitted a statement about his age that he knew was false.

  • The defendant knowingly made a false statement2; OR
  • The defendant knowingly concealed any material fact in any document filed with the DMV or CHP.

Example: See example above, except, instead of making the false statement that he has never been charged with a sex offense, the driver tries to conceal the information by submitting the application without ever answering the question.  In this situation, there may be not enough evidence to convict the defendant of the offense, because the prosecutor will have to present evidence that is sufficient to show that the defendant knowingly concealed the information.  This would be difficult to prove beyond a “reasonable doubt,” because people commonly forget to fill out a portion of an application.

Can I Expunge A Conviction For False Statements to DMV or CHP?

erasing conviction

A defendant can have his/her charge of False Statements to DMV or CHP expunged if certain conditions are fulfilled.  Pursuant to Penal Code 1203.4, California’s Expungement Law, a defendant is entitled to have his/her misdemeanor or felony offense expunged if the defendant:

  • Has fulfilled the conditions of probation for the entire period of probation,

AND

  • is not currently, charged with a criminal offense,

Or

  • On probation for a criminal offense,

Or

  • Serving a sentence for a criminal offense.

However, a defendant does not qualify for an expungement in a case where he/she was sent to California state prison.  Furthermore, certain offenses cannot be expunged under penal code 1203.4, including serious sex offenses committed against children.

Please feel free to contact the Aizman Law Firm if you would like to get more information about whether you qualify for an expungement of your criminal record.

Legal Defenses to Charges of False Statements to DMV or CHP

Mistake: People make mistakes.  If you, for example accidentally misspelled your name, or used a different spelling of your name, because it is spelled differently in another language, or maybe your foreign passport lists a different date of birth and you always get confused by which one to use, you should not be charged with the offense, because your intent was not to defraud the DMV.  A mistake is a viable defense to this charge, because it shows that you had no knowledge of the falsity of the information and/or no intent to defraud.

Example: A driver submitted to the DMV paperwork that falsely indicated that she was still the owner of a vehicle that in reality she already sold.  If she mistakenly did so, she will be able to use the defense of “mistake” to show that she did not intend to defraud the DMV.

What Are The Penalties, Punishment and Sentencing Guidelines for Making False Statements?

  • Up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Related Offenses and Additional Penalties

Perjury:  Under Penal Code 118 – California’s Perjury Law a defendant is guilty of perjury when he/she intentionally provides false information that he/she knows to be false while are under oath.

If convicted of perjury, a defendant may face a felony charge, punishable by up to 2, 3, or 4 years in the California state prison, in addition to a fine of up to $10,000.

Example: In the example above, wherein the applicant who is under 18 years old falsely states in his application for a driver’s license that he is over the age of 18, if he signs the application under penalty of perjury, he may alternatively be guilty of perjury under section 118 of the Penal Code, which is a greater offense.

Offering False Evidence: Under Penal Code 132 California’s “Offering False Evidence” Law the offense entails knowingly presenting false written evidence as if it were true or real in any legal proceeding and/or upon any inquiry authorized by law.  If convicted of this offense, a defendant may face a sentence of up to 3 years in the California state prison.

Example: Offering to the DMV a fake pink slip that you paid someone to create to prove ownership of a vehicle that does not lawfully belong to you.

Forgery or Falsification of Car Registration Stickers: Under Vehicle Code Section 4463 VC California’s” forgery or falsification of car registration stickers” law – it is unlawful to forge, alter, or falsify vehicle registration stickers, license, or license plate.

Example: Presenting a fake driver’s license can cause you to violate this offense.

If convicted of this offense, a defendant may face either a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on prior criminal history or the circumstances surrounding the offense.  If charged with a misdemeanor, a defendant may face a sentence of up to 1 year in a county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.  If charged with a felony, a defendant may face a sentence of up to 16 months, 2 or 3 years in the California state prison, and a fine of up to $10,000.

California’s False Identification to a Police Officer Laws Penal Code 148.9 PC – This Law prohibits presenting a fake identity to  a police officer.

How We Can Help

If you have any question about this article you can call us at (818) 351-9555.

Request A Free Consultation 818-351-9555 

Footnotes

  1. Vehicle Code 20 VC. []
  2. The word “knowingly” imports only a knowledge that the facts exist which bring the act or omission within the provisions of this code. It does not require any knowledge of the unlawfulness of such act or omission.  In this case, knowingly means that you knew that the statement or fact is false and offered it anyway.  It does not mean that you knew that the act of offering the false statement or fact is unlawful. []

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