Drivers in California are legally required to speak truthfully when they are stopped by a police officer or in discussions with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Lying to a member of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) or anyone at the DMV can lead to criminal charges.
California Vehicle Code Section 20: Providing False Statements to the DMV or CHP is often used to prosecute individuals who lie to CHP officers or DMV employees. The Simmrin Law Group can help you get more information about this charge and the effects of a conviction.
California Vehicle Code Section 20: The Legal Definition
Individuals may be charged under VC 20 if they speak with a member of the CHP or DMV and:
- Intentionally Make False Statements
- Utilize a False Name
- Knowingly Conceal a Material Fact in a Document They Filed
This means that VC 20 charges can apply to false statements made verbally or in writing. Note that an individual could end up facing charges under California Penal Code 118: Perjury for making a false statement on some documents, as many forms must be submitted to the DMV under the penalty of perjury.
Depending on the situation, drivers could also face similar charges for:
- California Penal Code Section 148.9: False Identification to Police
- California Penal Code Section 470(a): Forgery of a Driver’s License
- California Penal Code Section 470(b): Possessing a Fake Driver’s License
- California Vehicle Code Section 31: False Information to a Peace Officer
- California Vehicle Code Section 4463: Fraudulent Vehicle Registration
Any of these charges can have a lasting impact. You should reach out to a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles right away if you are accused of making a false statement to any officer of the law.
California Vehicle Code Section 20: Penalties for a Conviction
The court system in California can prosecute VC 20 violations as misdemeanors. Drivers who are convicted of providing false statements to the DMV or CHP can end up facing:
- Fines of Up to $1,000
- Jail Time of Up to 6 Months
Note that – if an individual is convicted of perjury for making a false statement – these penalties may be harsher. A perjury conviction can even lead to up to 4 years of incarceration in California.
California Vehicle Code Section 20: Examples
It can be easier to understand the specifics of a VC 20 charge if you go over some examples first:
Woman A is out for a drive with some friends. A CHP officer pulls her over for speeding and asks to see her license and registration. She panics and says she does not have her registration, because she does not want the CHP officer to know who she is. She also gives a false name. She could be charged under VC 20.
Man A goes to the DMV to get a driver’s license. His license was previously suspended, so he is applying for a license using someone else’s name and social security number (SSN). He fills out all the DMV forms with this false information. Because he filled out official documents under the penalty of perjury, he could be charged with perjury under PC 118.
California Vehicle Code Section 20: Legal Defenses
A criminal defense lawyer may be able to build a defense if you are accused of violating VC 20. Depending on your situation, you may be able to work with a legal professional who can argue that:
You Did Not Intentionally Provide False Information
VC 20 charges should only apply if someone intentionally offers false information to the DMV or CHP. If you accidentally submitted false information, you may be able to avoid a conviction under VC 20, along with any legal penalties.
There Is Not Enough Evidence Against You for a Conviction
You may also be able to avoid a VC 20 conviction if the prosecution simply does not have enough evidence. The team at the Simmrin Law Group may be able to block evidence that could be used by the prosecution, increasing your odds of beating this charge.
Contact a Lawyer to Handle VC 20 Charges in California
Individuals who get help right away can increase their odds of beating a California Vehicle Code Section 20: Providing False Statements to the DMV or CHP charge. Get information about your legal options by contacting the Simmrin Law Group today for a FREE consultation.
You can complete our online contact form, or call (310) 896-2723 to speak with professional criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles today.