Individuals in California are expected to file police reports if they are involved in an accident or if they are the victim of a criminal act. However, individuals can face legal charges if they falsely report a crime. California Vehicle Code Section 10501: Filing a False Auto Theft Report is one charge used to prosecute this activity.
You can get additional information about VC 10501 charges right here. The professionals at the Simmrin Law Group can go over the acts involving in filing a false auto theft report and the consequences of a VC 10501 conviction.
California’s Definition of Filing a False Auto Theft Report
The state of California can prosecute any individual who files a false police report under California Penal Code 148.5: Making a False Report of a Crime. Individuals must take specific actions to face charges under VC 10501 instead.
Generally, individuals in California are only charged with filing a false auto theft report if they:
- Make or File a False Report
- Dealing with the Theft of a Vehicle Registered in California
- While Intending to Deceive Someone
False reports can be made in writing or orally.
Filing a False Auto Theft Report and Auto Insurance Fraud
In many cases, individuals file false auto theft reports as part of an auto insurance fraud scheme. For example, a driver may:
- Abandon or Hide Their Vehicle
- Report the Vehicle as Stolen AND
- Collect Money from Their Insurance Policy
Note that individuals who commit auto insurance fraud may face additional charges in California. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the fraud, individuals could be prosecuted under:
- California Penal Code Section 548
- California Penal Code Section 550(a)(4)
- California Penal Code Section 550(b)(1-4)
All of these charges can lead to incredibly high fines and years of time in jail, on top of the penalties for a VC 10501 conviction.
Filing a False Auto Theft Report: Examples
Check out these examples of VC 10501 charges:
Woman A has debt piling up. She decides that she could handle it with a large payout from her insurance company. She decides to hide her vehicle in a storage unit and then claim that it was stolen. Police officers later find her vehicle. She could be charged with auto insurance fraud and filing a false auto theft report.
Woman B goes to bed and wakes up the next morning to find her car missing. She assumes it was stolen and files an auto theft report. She later finds out that her new boyfriend took her vehicle to fill it up with gas and get breakfast. She did not intentionally file a false report, so she shouldn’t be prosecuted in court under VC 10501.
Results of a Conviction for Filing a False Auto Theft Report
Drivers who file a false auto theft report can face different charges depending on their criminal history. If a driver has no history of filing false auto theft reports, VC 10501 is generally treated as a misdemeanor. A conviction for a first-time VC 10501 conviction can result in:
- Fines of Up to $1,000
- Jail Time of Up to Six Months
Individuals with a previous VC 10501 conviction may be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. A second misdemeanor conviction can increase the jail sentence to 1 year. A felony conviction can lead to:
- Fines of Up to $10,000
- Jail Time of Up to Three Years
Keep in mind that these penalties may be supplemented by an auto insurance fraud conviction.
Defending Against VC 10501 Charges in California
There are a number of legal defenses that can be used if you are accused of filing a false auto theft report. A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can help you go over your legal options if you are facing VC 10501 charges. Based on the facts surrounding your case, a lawyer may argue that:
You Didn’t Intend to Deceive Anyone
Drivers must act intentionally to deceive peace officers or their insurance company to be convicted under VC 10501.
You Mistakenly Filed a False Auto Theft Report
Sometimes, drivers file an auto theft report before realizing that their vehicle was not stolen. If you legitimately believed your vehicle was stolen, you should not be charged with filing a false auto theft report.
Call a Criminal Defense Lawyer in California
Auto insurance fraud and California Vehicle Code Section 10501: Filing a False Auto Theft Report accusations can change your life. Make sure you’re ready to address these charges by reaching out to the Simmrin Law Group. You can get a FREE consultation from our criminal defense lawyers today.
Get the help you need by calling (310) 997-4688, or filling out our online contact form.