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13004 VC – Unlawful Use of a (Fake) ID Card in California

  California Vehicle Code 13004 VC prohibits the unlawful use of an identification card (such as possessing a fake ID or lending your ID for someone else to use). The offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and fines of up to $1000.00.

  The full text of the law reads that:

  It is unlawful for any person:

  13004. (a) To display or cause or permit to be displayed or have in his possession any canceled, fictitious, fraudulently altered, or fraudulently obtained identification card.

  (b) To lend his identification card to any other person or knowingly permit the use thereof by another.

  (c) To display or represent any identification card not issued to him as being his card.

  (d) To permit any unlawful use of an identification card issued to him.

  (e) To do any act forbidden or fail to perform any act required by this article.

  (f) To photograph, photostat, duplicate, or in any way reproduce any identification card or facsimile thereof in such a manner that it could be mistaken for a valid identification card, or to display or have in his possession any such photograph, photostat, duplicate, reproduction, or facsimile unless authorized by the provisions of this code.

  (g) To alter any identification card in any manner not authorized by this code.


  a person 18 years of age showing a bouncer his older brother’s ID card to get into a club. an adult giving a minor his/her ID so that the minor can purchase alcohol. a person using a photostat to reproduce his/her identification card and sell the copies to others. Defenses

  Our criminal defense lawyers advise clients that there are three effective defenses to allegations under this statute. These are the defendant showing that he/she:

  did not “possess” a fake identification card, did not know another person was using his/her ID, and was charged because of police misconduct. Penalties

  A violation of California Vehicle Code Section 13004 is charged as a misdemeanor. This is in contrast to:

  a felony, or an infraction. The crime is punishable by:

  custody in county jail for up to six months, and/or a maximum fine of $1,000. Our California criminal defense attorneys will discuss the following in this article:

  California Vehicle Code 13004 VC sets forth a variety of crimes relating to the unlawful use of an identification card.  These unlawful acts include:

  displaying or possessing any canceled, fictitious, fraudulently altered, or fraudulently obtained I.D. card, lending another person a valid identification card or knowingly allowing another person to use it, using someone else’s I.D. card, photographing, duplicating, or in any way reproducing an identification card so that it is mistakable for a valid I.D. card, and otherwise altering an identification card in any unlawful way. A defendant can employ one of three common defenses to challenge allegations under this statute. These include the accused showing that he/she:

  did not possess a fake identification card. did not know that another person was using his/her ID. was a victim of police misconduct. Recall that a person can be charged under these laws with the unlawful possession of a fake or canceled ID. Further, “possession” has a very precise legal definition under California criminal law. Therefore, a defendant can always raise the defense that he/she never had possession of a fake ID card.

  Note too that a person is guilty under this statute for knowingly allowing someone else to use his/her identification card. A valid defense, then, is for an accused to show that he/she never knew that another person used his/her ID. Perhaps, for example, the other person stole the defendant’s identification card.

  It is always a defense under VC 13004 for a defendant to show that he/she was charged with a crime only because police officers engaged in misconduct. Examples of misconduct include:

  violating the state’s search and seizure laws, or engaging in illegal racial profiling. A violation of this statute is a misdemeanor offense.

  Criminal charges are punishable by:

  imprisonment in county jail (as opposed to state prison) for up to six months, and/or a maximum fine of $1,000. A judge has the discretion to award a defendant with misdemeanor (or summary) probation in lieu of jail time.

  A person convicted of the unlawful use of an ID card can get the conviction expunged, per California Penal Code Section 1203.4.

  This is true provided that the defendant successfully completes:

  his/her jail term, or probation (whichever was imposed). There are three other laws related to this statute. These are:

  forging or counterfeiting a driver’s license or ID card – PC 470a, displaying or possessing a counterfeit driver’s license or ID card – PC 470b, and manufacturing or selling counterfeit identification cards – VC 13004.1. Penal Code 470a PC is the California statute that prohibits a person from forging a driver’s license or ID card.

  Note that if a person allows someone else to forge his/her own ID card, that person could be charged under both:

  PC 470a, and VC 13004. California Penal Code 470b PC makes it a crime to possess or display a fake ID or a fake driver’s license for the purpose of deceiving or defrauding another person.

  Note that unlike with VC 13004, a prosecutor has to prove that someone defrauded another person to establish guilt under this statute.

  Vehicle Code 13004.1 VC is the statute that makes it a crime for a person to manufacture or sell counterfeit or fake California state identification cards.

  Note that while VC 13004 primarily focuses on real ID cards, the provisions of this code involve fake cards.

  For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, we invite you to contact our law firm at the Shouse Law Group. Our attorneys provide free consultations, and they represent clients throughout California, including those in Los Angeles and Los Angeles County, Long Beach, Pasadena, Burbank, Glendale, Santa Monica, Santa Clarita, and Torrance.

  Legal References: California Vehicle Code 13004 VC. California Penal Code 19 PC.

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Possession of Fake Driver’s License

  California Penal Code Section 470b defines possession of a fake driver’s license or ID card, which makes it a crime to display or possess a fake identification if there was an intent to commit fraud or a forgery.

  Penal Code 470b covers any form of government-issued identification card that was forged or altered, and you don’t have to actually use the fake to be charged with his offense – simple possession is sufficient for a conviction.

  The fake identification includes a driver’s license or any type of card use for identification that has been altered, duplicated, reproduced, forged, or counterfeited.

  The phrase “intent to commit fraud” simply means your intent for using the fake ID was to deceive. For instance, a minor using fake ID to purchase alcohol – or a situation where you may have used fake identification to cash a check that was in another person’s name.  Another example includes undocumented immigrants using fake ID cards to avoid arrest or to secure California state benefits.

  PC 470b is a “wobbler” meaning it can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony crime and normally based of the details of the case and your criminal record.

  To give readers useful information about Penal Code 470b possession of a fake driver’s license or ID card charges, our defense attorneys are providing an overview below.

  California Penal Code 470b PC defines possession of or displaying a fake identification:

  Any person who alters, falsifies, forges, duplicates, counterfeits, reproduces a driver’s license or government issued identification card with intent to commit fraud or forgery.

  The various forms of fake identification cards included in under Penal Code 470b include:

  Again, you are not required to actually use the fake ID to be charged with a crime – just possession or control only is enough.

  To be found guilty of Penal Code 470b possession of a fake identification case, the prosecutor must prove – beyond any reasonable doubt – all of the “elements of the crime” listed under CALCRIM 1921 Jury Instructions:

  The most common type of a fake ID used is a California driver’s license issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

  Again, it’s important to recall the crucial terms above in the definition of possession or displaying a fake ID crime – altered, falsified, forged, duplicated, reproduced, or counterfeited.

  There are also many was to possess a fake ID – such as a real California driver’s license modified to include a false date of birth.

  Again, Penal Code 470b possession of a fake driver’s license or identification is known as a “wobbler” crime – giving the prosecutor the discretion to file either misdemeanor or felony charges – typically based on the details of the case and criminal record.

  If convicted of a misdemeanor case of PC 470b possession a fake identification, you will be facing following legal penalties:

  If convicted of a PC 470b felony case of possession or displaying a fake ID, you will be facing the following penalties:

  It should be noted in cases where a minor attempt to use fake identification to purchase alcohol or other prohibited items, the case will be processed through the Los Angeles County juvenile court system. 

  Penal Code 470 – Forgery,

  Penal Code 470a – Forgery of a License or ID Card,

  Penal Code 472 – Forgery of a Public Seal,

  Vehicle Code 12951 – Failing to Display Driver’s License,

  Vehicle Code 13004 – Unlawful Acts with Identification Cards,

  Vehicle Code 14610 – Unlawful Acts with Driver’s License.

  If you have been accused of Penal Code 470b possession of a fake driver’s license or identification card, our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys can use a variety of strategies for best possible outcome. We need to first review the details of the case to decide on a strategy. The most common defenses include:

  Lack of knowledge identification was fake or altered

  Recall the elements of the crime above that shows that the prosecutor has the burden of proof that you knew the identification was fake or altered. Since they have to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt, we might be able to make an argument you simply didn’t know the ID was fake or had been modified. If successful, you have a good chance at avoiding a conviction.

  Lack of intent to commit forgery or fraud

  Again, recall the elements of the crime above that state you must have had intent to commit forgery or fraud to be convicted – even though you can still be found guilty for simple possession or displaying a fake identification – without ever using it. We might be able to argue there is insufficient evidence to prove you had the required intent to commit fraud or forgery.

  If you were accused of possessing or displaying a fake driver’s license or government issued identification card included in California Penal Code 470b, call our defense lawyers to review the case. We have track record of success and will work to get the charges reduced to a lesser offense of dismissed.

  Cron, Israels & Stark is a criminal defense law firm located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025. We offer a free case evaluation at (424) 372-3112.

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