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Vehicle Code 4463 VC - Vehicle Registration Fraud

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Jun 26, 2024

California Vehicle Code 4463 VC prohibits fraud or forgery related to car registration certificates, tags or stickers, license plates, or smog test certificates.

This crime is a wobbler that can be filed as a misdemeanor or felony and carries up to three years in jail. Vehicle Code 4000a1 VC requires drivers to display valid vehicle registration.

Simply put, altering, forging, counterfeiting, or falsifying vehicle registration materials is against the law. It's also unlawful to display or possess blank, canceled, revoked, forged, or counterfeit vehicle registration materials with fraudulent intent.

California Vehicle Code 4463 VC  - Vehicle Registration Fraud
VC 4463 prohibits false or forged registration stickers, tags, certificates, and smog tests.

The law also prohibits passing or attempting to pass as genuine any false, altered, or counterfeit vehicle registration materials.

Vehicle registration fraud means falsifying, forging, or counterfeiting vehicle registration certificates, license plates, or stickers. It violates California's fraud laws and is a deliberate deception to secure an unfair or unlawful gain.

Suppose you alter or forge vehicle registration materials, which can be considered the crime of forgery. In that case, you could be charged for violating VC 4463. This method is standard among those who knowingly drive stolen cars.

In addition to forging or counterfeiting registration materials, you can violate this vehicle registration fraud law provision by altering, forging, counterfeiting, or falsifying comparable registration materials from jurisdictions other than California.

You can also be convicted of VC 4463 vehicle registration fraud even if you do not create the forged or fraudulent materials yourself if you display or possess them with fraudulent intent.

You can still be found guilty of vehicle registration fraud if you publish or pass off as genuine or attempt any fraudulent vehicle registration material if you know it is false, altered, forged, or counterfeit.

Vehicle Registration Fraud - Quick Facts

  • California Vehicle Code 4463 VC makes it a crime to engage in fraud or forgery regarding vehicle registration certificates, tags or stickers, license plates, or a smog test certificate.
  • Falsifying or forging car registration information is illegal and considered auto registration fraud.
  • VC 4463 covers unlawful conduct, such as altering or counterfeiting registration cards and stickers.
  • It's also illegal to display or possess fraudulent or forged registration cards or registration stickers or to pass as true forged cards or stickers.
  • This law also makes registering your vehicle with the wrong year illegal, giving a false car value when registering a vehicle, registering your car in another state while living in California to pay fewer fees and taxes, and using someone else's valid registration stickers or papers.
  • Creating and selling forged registration or smog certificates is illegal.
  • Deliberately stating your vehicle's wrong model year or purchase price to save on registration fees is illegal.
  • Fraud is a deliberate deception to secure an unfair or unlawful gain.
  • The district attorney can charge this crime as a misdemeanor or a felony called a "wobbler."
  • California considers all vehicle registration information as official documentation.
  • Violating this law could potentially lead to felony charges and jail time.

What is Considered Auto Registration Fraud?

As noted, under VC 4463 VC, it is criminal auto registration fraud in California to do any of the following acts:

  • Alter existing registration information with false information.
  • Possess forged, altered, or false car registration cards or stickers intending to defraud.
  • Create, forge, and counterfeit false vehicle registration cards or stickers.
  • Possession of a blank, incomplete, suspended, revoked, altered, forged, counterfeit, or false vehicle registration card or license plate.
  • Display, causing or permitting to be displayed false vehicle registration card.
  • Possession of a false registration sticker or smog certificate with the intent to defraud.
  • Attempting to pass off any forged or false registration cards or stickers as authentic.
  • False smog certificates, license plates, temporary plates, certificates of ownership, etc.

Suppose you use another person's smog certificate to pass a mandatory smog test for your vehicle or swap another person's license plate to use on your car. You could be charged with VC 4463 vehicle registration fraud in that case.

What are the Vehicle Code 4463 Penalties?

Auto registration fraud is a "wobbler" offense, which may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Prosecutors will use several factors to decide which charges to file, such as the following:

  • Your prior criminal history.
  • Circumstances surrounding the case.
  • Other alleged criminal violations.

If you're convicted of a misdemeanor, you could be facing the following punishments:

  • Up to $1000 in fines.
  • Up to one year in jail.

If you're convicted of a felony auto registration fraud, you could be facing the following punishments:

  • Fines of up to $10,000.
  • 16 months, two or three years in jail.
  • Judges often impose probation instead of jail time or with reduced jail time.

You could lose your driver's license if the DMV believes you submitted fraudulent information in any application. They might either suspend or revoke your existing license or refuse to renew it when it expires.

What are the Related Crimes?

Several California crimes are often charged along with, or instead of, Vehicle Code 4463 VC auto registration fraud, such as the following:

  • Vehicle Code 20 VC - Giving False Information to the DMV. If your fraudulent registration involves giving a fictitious name or other false information to the DMV, you could be charged with this crime and vehicle registration fraud.
  • Vehicle Code 31 VC - Giving False Information to a Peace Officer. This law covers both oral and written false information. Suppose you are pulled over on a traffic stop, and the officer discovers your fake registration. In that case, you could be charged with this crime in addition to VC 4463.
  • Penal Code 470a PC - Forging or Counterfeiting a Driver's License. This law makes forging a driver's license or other government ID a separate crime that carries up to three years in prison if convicted.
  • Penal Code 472 PC - Forging or Counterfeiting a Public Seal. If your fake registration contains a counterfeit of the California seal, you could be charged with this crime separately.
  • Vehicle Code 4463(b) VC - Disability Placard Fraud.

What are the Common VC 4463 Defenses?

It might be possible to possess fraudulent registration unknowingly. Our California criminal defense lawyers might be able to use several common legal defenses for auto registration fraud, as discussed below. 

Vehicle Registration Fraud

Perhaps we can argue there was a lack of intent to defraud or that you didn't act willfully. Maybe you were mistaken about your registration information or were unaware your information was incorrect. Notably, the prosecution must prove intent to convict you.

Perhaps we can argue there was an unlawful search and seizure or no probable cause. If police searched you without probable cause, leading to your arrest, we might be able to get the case dismissed due to a violation of your constitutional rights.

Perhaps we can argue that there is insufficient evidence to support a conviction. Some auto registration fraud cases are filed based on circumstantial rather than direct evidence. We might be able to show the prosecutor that they don't have sufficient proof to secure a conviction.

If guilt is not in doubt, we may be able to negotiate with the district attorney for a favorable plea bargain, such as exchanging a guilty plea for a reduced charge, such as an infraction or lesser sentence.

Perhaps we can use prefiling intervention to convince law enforcement and the prosecutor not to file formal criminal charges. Contact us for more information. The Hedding Law Firm is based in Los Angeles, CA.

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About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.