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VC 13004 Possession False Identification Card: Law, Penalty & Defense of Vehicle Code 13004. Criminal Defense Lawyer

According to California Vehicle Code Section 13004(a), it is unlawful “to display…, or have in his possession, any canceled, fictitious, fraudulently altered, or fraudulently obtained identification card.” (VC 13004(a) Abbrev.).

It is also unlawful to lend another person an identification card (VC 13004(b)), display another person’s identification card as though it is the person displaying it (VC 13004(c)), allow another person to use his identification card (VC 13004(d)), reproduce an identification card without authorization (VC 13004(f)), or alter an identification card without authorization (VC 13004(g)).

Example: David loans his driver’s license to his younger brother John so that John can get into a nightclub (John is underage). Result: Both David and John may be charged with unlawful displaying or possession of an identification card. (i.e., David is guilty of VC 13004(a), and John is guilty of VC 13004(c)).

Note: In the above example, both David and John may both be charged with additional and related charges, such as conspiracy to commit VC 13004 Crimes.

VC 13004 Penalties

Regardless of which subsection of VC 13004 is charged, the penalties are very similar.

To start, unlawful display of possession of an identification card is classified as a misdemeanor, as opposed to a misdemeanor or felony. For the main difference in classification of crimes, see Infraction v. Misdemeanor v. Felony.

Jail Sentence: A conviction for any vehicle code 13004 crime may lead to a jail sentence of up to six months in the county jail. A probation sentence, with or without jail, may also be allowed in VC 13004 crimes.

Note: The length of jail sentence (or the granting of a probation sentence) after a conviction for VC 13004 depends on many factors, including the defendant’s criminal history, the level of sophistication involved in the crime, the harm caused by the defendant’s crime, and more.

Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is a period of supervision, as opposed to a jail sentence. A probation sentence is allowed after a conviction for any VC 13004 crime, but a probation sentence is never guaranteed.

Note: Whether the defendant is granted a probation sentence after a conviction for unlawful display or possession of identification card depends on many factors similar to those considered for jail sentencing (See above).

Work Release: Work release is a type of manual labor that usually includes collecting trash around highways and county jails. Work release is sometimes used as punishment in VC 13004 cases, as opposed to a county jail sentence. Any work release sentence may be used as a direct sentence, or as a condition of probation, in a VC 13004 case after conviction. For information, see Work Release Sentence.

Immigration Consequences: Vehicle code 13004 is classified as a misdemeanor; however, it is also considered a crime involving moral turpitude (“bad act” crime). This means that this means violation can carry severe consequences with immigration for non-United States citizens (deportation, denial of entry into the U.S. and denial of naturalization).

Note: Non-United States citizens should be very careful about pleading guilty or “no contest” to any criminal allegation of VC 13004 because the immigration consequences can be very severe despite the misdemeanor classification.

Additional Punishment: In addition to a possible jail or probation sentence, additional direct and indirect consequences of a conviction for unlawful display or possession of an identification card can include professional licensing consequences, court fines and fees, criminal protective orders, restitution, violation of probation or parole, loss of scholarship or military service opportunities, and more.

Court Fine: In addition to any jail or probation sentence after a conviction for VC 13004, the defendant may face up to a $1,000 fine per conviction. This monetary penalty is in addition to any restitution (payment to victim to restore any economic loss to any victim), and court assessment fees.

Judicial Diversion: A judicial diversion is a program whereby the defendant agrees to complete certain “judicial diversion” terms in exchange for the judge dismissing the defendant’s case upon successful completion of those terms.

Judicial diversion is allowed in VC 13004 cases (PC 1001.95), but it is not guaranteed. To enter diversion requires a petition from the defendant whereby the defendant must show good reasons for being allowed to enter a diversion program.

Note: Diversion programs may be entered over the objection of the district attorney in some situations. For more information, see Judicial Diversion.

Related Offense: Crimes related to VC 13004, which are commonly charged alongside VC 13004 charges include PC 148(a) [Delaying an Officer’s Investigation], VC 4462.5 [Auto Registration Fraud], PC 470(b) [Possession of Forged Driver’s License], VC 13004.1 [Manufacturing False Identification Card], and more.

VC 13004 Defense

Every vehicle code 13004 case is different; therefore, the defense to a VC 13004 charge is developed to meet the specific allegation. With this mind, the common defenses to a VC 13004 criminal charge include reasonable mistake of fact (as to the validity of the ID otherwise used lawfully or as to accidentally using another person’s ID), statute of limitations (1 year from the date of alleged offense), Serna Defense, lack of proper Mirandizing of defendant before questioning by law enforcement, coerced confession, duress, and more.

Possession Defense: When the defendant displays an identification card that is either false (fake), or not his to display, then the issue of possession is not a defense. However, other defenses may apply. When the defendant is not holding the identification card, then “possession” of the ID, or lack thereof, may be a defense.

Example: Daniel is charged with “possession” of a false identification card under VC 13004(a). The identification card in question was found in Daniel’s house (not in his bedroom), but Daniel lives with five other guys. Result: Daniel may not be in “possession” of the false identification under this fact pattern and Daniel might be entitled to a “not guilty” verdict or dismissal of the criminal charges.

Stolen ID Defense: A common defense used in vehicle code 13004(b) cases is a showing that the defendant did not authorize the use of his ID, such as when a younger sibling takes an older siblings ID without permission so that the younger sibling can sneak into bars without being old enough to enter legally. A similar defense is used in VC 13004(b) cases when the defendant’s wallet and ID are stolen and used without the defendant’s knowledge or permission.

Note: For defense to criminal charges in general, see Defenses to Crime.

Post-Conviction Remedies: After a conviction for vehicle code 13004 violations, the defendant may be entitled to some post-conviction remedies depending on the situation, including appeal the misdemeanor conviction, terminate probation or criminal protective order early (PC 1203.3), expunge the criminal conviction (PC 1203.4), withdraw a plea of guilt or “no contest” (PC 1018), and more.

If you or a loved one is charged with a violation of California vehicle code section 13004(a)-(g), or unlawful possession or display of an identification card (or fake ID), call our successful and award-winning criminal defense attorneys today.

Our team of criminal defense lawyers have successfully defended every type of misdemeanor and felony criminal charge, including hundreds of vehicle code violations. We represent clients in all Inland Empire cities and courts, including Rancho Cucamonga, Grand Terrace, Redlands, San Bernardino, Riverside, Colton, Victorville, Highland, Chino, and more. Call today!


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VC 13004 Possession False Identification Card: Law, Penalty & Defense of Vehicle Code 13004


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