There are several different laws designed to prosecute individuals who steal or damage motor vehicles in California. Many of these laws lead to felony charges and incredibly serious penalties. However, in some cases, individuals may be charged with a misdemeanor under California Vehicle Code Section 10852: Tampering With a Vehicle.
Get help understanding the legal applications of VC 10852 with the Simmrin Law Group. Find out how this charge compares to grand theft auto and go over the penalties for a tampering with a vehicle conviction.
Tampering with a Vehicle: Definition
Individuals in California may face charges for tampering with a vehicle if they damage or interfere with:
- Another Person’s Motor Vehicle OR
- Items Contained Inside Another Person’s Motor Vehicle
VC 10852 charges can also apply if someone purposefully damages another person’s vehicle. An individual must act without the consent of the owner of the motor vehicle to face tampering with a vehicle charges.
Note that VC 10852 is very similar to several other charges, including:
- California Penal Code Section 487(d)(1): Grand Theft Auto
- California Vehicle Code Section 10851: Unlawful Taking Or Driving Of A Vehicle
VC 10852 is unique in that it does not require an individual to take a vehicle. Individuals can be charged with tampering with a vehicle for taking an item from a vehicle or simply damaging another person’s vehicle.
Tampering with a Vehicle: Penalties
Individuals who are charged under VC 10852 can face misdemeanor charges. A conviction for tampering with a vehicle may lead to:
- Fines: Up to $1,000
- Jail Time: Up to 1 Year
Note that the court may increase the fine to $2,000 if someone tampers with a vehicle belonging to a disabled individual.
Individuals who cause a lot of damage may be charged with vandalism, instead of tampering with a vehicle. The penalties for vandalism can be far more severe.
Tampering with a Vehicle: Examples
The following situations can help you understand tampering with a vehicle charges:
Man A argues with Man B. He becomes incredibly angry and storms off. As he leaves, he sees Man B’s car and decides to get some revenge. He finds the car unlocked, opens it, and slices up the driver’s seat. He could be charged with tampering with a vehicle.
Man C is walking down the street with some of his friends. They are in high-spirits and are pulling on the handles of the cars they walk past. They find one unlocked and decide to climb inside. They look around and end up taking some CDs and a phone charger, along with a handicapped placard. They could be convicted under VC 10852.
Man D leaves a bar and can’t remember where he parked. He finds an unlocked vehicle with the keys under the floor mat and decides that it’s good enough to get home. He drives off in the vehicle and accidentally pulls off the rear-view mirror. He could be charged with grand theft auto and driving under the influence (DUI), but he would likely not face tampering with a vehicle charges, since he did not intend to damage the vehicle.
Tampering with a Vehicle: Legal Defenses
A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help individuals accused of tampering with a vehicle. Building a defense requires a lawyer to dig into the facts surrounding your case. Depending on your unique situation, your lawyer might be able to prove:
You Did Not Intend to Tamper with a Vehicle
Individuals must act intentionally to damage or interfere with a vehicle to be convicted under VC 10852. This means that if you accidentally damaged another individual’s vehicle, you might be able to avoid a VC 10852 conviction.
You Had the Owner’s Consent
You are allowed to enter a vehicle and retrieve an item if you have the permission of the vehicle’s owner. If you were asked to get something out of a vehicle, you should not face charges for tampering with a vehicle.
You Were Falsely Accused
False accusations are unfortunately common in the criminal justice system in California. If you are accused of tampering with a vehicle, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to prove that you are innocent.
Work with Professionals to Handle VC 10852 Charges
You can increase your odds of beating California Vehicle Code Section 10852: Tampering With A Vehicle charges by contacting a criminal defense lawyer immediately. The professionals at the Simmrin Law Group can go over your case today. Just call us at (310) 997-4688 or fill out our online contact form to get the help you need.
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