Information on the crime of Misuse of Handicapped Placards & License Plates (i.e., handicapped parking permit), is found at California Vehicle Code Section 4461 VC.
VC 4461 Law
A person shall not lend a certificate of ownership, registration card, license plate, special plate, validation tab, or permit issued to him or her if the person desiring to borrow it would not be entitled to its use, and a person shall not knowingly permit its use by one not entitled to it (VC 4461(a)).
A person to whom a disabled person placard has been issued shall not lend the placard to another person, and a disabled person shall not knowingly permit the use for parking purposes of the placard or identification license plate… by one not entitled to it. A person to whom a disabled person placard has been issued may permit another person to use the placard only while in the presence or reasonable proximity of the disabled person for the purpose of transporting the disabled person… (VC 4461(b) Abbrev.).
An expire disabled person’s placard is not a valid disabled person’s placard. Use of an invalid placard, while knowing that the placard is invalid or expired, is a violation of VC 4461(c) (VC 4461(c) Abbrev.).
Example: David is physically disabled, and as such, he is granted a disabled persons licensed plate and parking placard from the state of California. Thereafter, David loans Goliath David’s vehicle and disabled persons’ placard. David knows that Goliath is not disabled, but David wants to loan his placards to Goliath so that David does not have to walk as far to the entrance of public buildings: Result: Both David and Goliath are guilty of violating VC 4461.
VC 4461 Penalties
VC 4461 may be charged as either a misdemeanor, or alternatively as an infraction. When VC 4461 is charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant may face up to six (6) months in the county jail and a fine of not less than $250 dollars and not more than $1,000 (VC 4461 Abbrev.).
Probation Sentence: A defendant found guilty of misuse of handicapped placards (or disabled license plates), may be placed on probation, as opposed facing a jail sentence. A probation sentence is not guaranteed and will only be granted in some situations where the interest of justice allows for a probation sentence.
Whether or not the defendant receives a probation sentence after a VC 4461 conviction depends on several factors, including the defendant’s history, the level of sophistication of the alleged fraud, the amenability of the defendant to serve probation, and more (For more information, see Misdemeanor Probation).
Infraction Fines: A defendant found guilty of VC 4461 as an infraction may face a fine of not less than $250 and not more than $1,000, but the defendant will not face jail time.
Reduced Classification: In many cases of misuse of vehicle placards, the defendant may have his or her misdemeanor charges dropped to infraction charges. Whether this occurs depends on several factors, including the defendant’s criminal history and the terms of any plea agreement between the district attorney and the defendant, or the terms of any plea agreement between the criminal court judge and the defendant.
CIMT: A misdemeanor violation of VC 4461 is classified as a crime involving moral turpitude, or CIMT. A CIMT is any criminal action that involves deceit, or otherwise involves immoral conduct. Crimes involving moral turpitude, including VC 4461, carry negative consequences for non-US citizens, licensed professionals, and military personnel (For more information, see Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude).
VC 4461 Defense
There are several defense options that might apply to disabled person placard fraud, including mistake of fact (as to the current valid status of the placard), illegal search and seizure, insufficient evidence to prove that the defendant was aware of the disabled person’s placard’s limitations, statute of limitations (1 year for misdemeanor VC 4461 crimes), and more.
Also, per VC 4461, a person may use the disabled person’s placard for the purpose of transporting the disabled person.
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor violation of California vehicle code section 4461, or use of an invalid or fake handicapped parking permit or license, contact our criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation. Our attorneys have helped hundreds of defendants charged with infraction, misdemeanor, and felonies in the Inland Empire, including the cities and courts of Redlands, Rancho Cucamonga, Yucaipa, Ontario, Chino, Montclair, Victorville, and more. Call today!
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