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Providing false information – orally or in writing – to a peace officer while the officer is in the performance of his/her duties, when such person knows that the information is false. 1
Examples include giving a police/peace officer any of the following information:
- Wrong answer to a question that is not true
- Wrong/fake name
- Fake/borrowed license/ID
If a defendant prepares and/or offers a forged document, such as a driver’s license, and presents it as genuine, he/she may also face charges under Penal Code Section 132- California’s Offering False Evidence Law or Penal Code section 470(a) – California’s Forgery Law.
To prove that you are guilty of this offense, the prosecutor has to prove the following facts or elements2:
- The defendant gave information either orally or in writing3
- To a peace officer4
- While in the performance of his/her duties5
- When the person knows that the information is false6.
Example: A driver was driving her friend’s car and when stopped for speeding, presented to a police officer her friend’s driver’s license as if it were her driver’s license. When the police officer realized that the driver does not look like the person in the picture, he asked the driver who the person in the picture was. The driver falsely stated that she is the person in the picture. The driver may face a misdemeanor charge for Providing False Information to a Peace Officer punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Additionally, if the driver tried to resist or prevent the officer from arresting her, she may also face charges for Resisting Arrest under Penal Code §148.
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Lack of Intent to Provide False Information: To convict you of the offense, the prosecutor will have to show that you had intent to defraud. In other words, if you did not know that a document you were presenting was forged, or that the information you were offering was false, you cannot be convicted of this offense. Moreover, if you offered false information because a cop put you on the spot and you panicked and accidentally made a false statement, it will be difficult for the prosecutor to show that your intent was to defraud or deceive.
Jail: Punishable by up to 6 months in jail
Fine: Up to $1,000
- Pursuant to the Penal Code section 148(a)(1), a defendant who resists, obstructs, or delays a law enforcement officer in the performance of his/her duty, may be charged under Penal Code 148(a)(1) – California’s resisting arrest law.
False Statements to DMV or CHP:
- Under Vehicle Code 20 California’s False Statements to DMV or CHP Law 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 false a 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, a defendant may face a misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
False Representation of Identity to a Police Officer
- Penal Code 148.9 California’s presenting a false identity to a police officer law – prohibits one to falsely represent a fake or fictitious identity to a police officer either to evade the process of the court, or to evade the proper identification of the person.
Forgery or Falsification of Car Registration Stickers:
- Under the Vehicle Code 4463 VC – It is unlawful to forge, alter, or falsify vehicle registration stickers, license, or license plate.
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- Vehicle Code 31 VC. [↩]
- Vehicle Code 31 VC. [↩]
- The information can be spoken or presented in written form, such as a fake driver’s license. ((Vehicle Code 31 VC. [↩]
- A “peace officer” is anyone who is engaged in the duty of law enforcement, including but not limited to the following persons: CHP officer (California Highway Patrol), police officer, sheriff, marshal or deputy marshal of a superior court or county, port warden or port police officer, any inspector or investigator employed in such capacity in the office of a district attorney. Pen. Code, § 830 et seq. [↩]
- “Performance of duties” in this context means engaging in the duty of law enforcement. Pen. Code, § 830 et seq. [↩]
- The word “knows” or “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. [↩]