The state of California uses vehicle identification numbers (VINs) to ensure that vehicles are easy to identify and track. Manufacturers place this number directly onto motor vehicles and it must remain unchanged throughout the vehicle’s life.
Individuals who attempt to alter or remove a VIN or another vehicle identification mark can face criminal charges under California Vehicle Code Section 10750: Altering a Vehicle Identification Mark. Get more information about this criminal offense right here with the Simmrin Law Group.
The Definition of VC 10750 Charges
Individuals in California may be charged with altering a vehicle identification mark if they act intentionally to:
- Alter a VIN
- Deface a VIN
- Destroy a VIN
Note that individuals can face this charge even if they only deface, destroy, or alter one of the VINs stamped on a vehicle. This number can be found in as many as nine places on a motor vehicle. Individuals are not required to change all instances of the VIN to face a VC 10750 charge.
You should also be aware that there are two major exceptions to VC 10750 charges. Individuals may avoid prosecution if they altered, damaged, or destroyed a VIN while:
- Attempting to Restore the VIN
- Placing a New Number as Part of the Manufacturing Process
Penalties for VC 10750 Convictions in California
The state of California prosecutes altering a vehicle identification mark as a misdemeanor. Individuals who are convicted under VC 10750 can be sentenced to:
- Up to $1,000 in Fines
- Up to One Year in Jail
Note that there are several charges very similar to VC 10750 used in California. Depending on the situation, the court may use one of the following charges:
- California Vehicle Code Section 10802: Altering a VIN for the Purpose of Misidentification
- California Vehicle Code Section 10803: Buying / Possessing Vehicles with Tampered VINs
An individual who alters, defaces, or destroys a VIN after stealing a vehicle could also face charges for grand theft auto in California, which can have far harsher criminal penalties.
Examples of VC 10750 Violations in California
Man A steals a vehicle and intends to resell it. He removes the VIN and replaces it with an altered VIN to avoid being caught. He could face numerous criminal charges, including accusations for altering a vehicle identification mark.
Man B is involved in a large car accident. As a result of the accident, several of the VINs on his car are completely destroyed. He should not be charged under VC 10750, as the destruction of the VINs was completely accidental and outside of his control.
Man C restores old vehicles as a hobby. Part of the restoration process involves altering VINs to return them to their previous condition. VC 10750 provides an exception for individuals who are restoring a vehicle, so Man C should not be convicted of altering a vehicle identification mark in the state of California.
Legal Defenses for VC 10750 Charges
Handling VC 10750 accusations can be easier if you have professional legal help on your side. You can get legal advice now with a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. A lawyer can go over the facts of your case to determine if the following defense options would work for you:
The VIN was Altered, Destroyed, or Defaced by Accident
You should only face VC 10750 charges if you intentionally destroy, deface, or alter a VIN. If the VIN was impacted by accident then you may be able to avoid a conviction for altering a vehicle identification mark.
The VIN Was Altered Before You Got the Vehicle
VC 10750 charges should only apply if you altered, defaced, or destroyed a vehicle’s VIN. If the VIN was already changed when you purchased the vehicle, you should not be convicted under VC 10750. However, you could be charged with buying a vehicle with an altered VIN.
The VIN was Altered with the DMV’s Authorization
In some cases, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will give an individual permission to alter a VIN. If you were given proper authorization to change a VIN then you should not face prosecution under VC 10750.
Take on VC 10750 Charges with a Criminal Defense Lawyer
California Vehicle Code Section 10750: Altering a Vehicle Identification Mark charges can have tremendous impacts on your life. Get help addressing these charges now with the Simmrin Law Group. You can get a FREE consultation from our criminal defense lawyers today.
Start working on your case by calling us at (310) 997-4688, or completing our online contact form.