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Giving false information to a police officer – California Vehicle Code VC 31

Posted by Raoul Severo | Dec 12, 2020 | 0 Comments

California Vehicle Code VC 31

California Vehicle Code VC 31 is the statute that penalizes the malicious act of giving false details or information to a uniformed officer or any law enforcers in that matter while the said officer is performing his/her duty. It states that:

“No person shall give, either orally or in writing, information to a peace officer while in the performance of his duties under the provisions of this code when such person knows that the information is false.”

False Information/Statement

In this article, false information refers to any fraudulent data or details given, be it orally or written, by a person subjected to lawful questioning by a legally recognized peace officer.

  • Violation of this law includes:
  • Falsification of identifying information (name, address, etc.);
  • Presenting a falsified, counterfeited, or borrowed Identification Card (Driver's License, Personal ID, etc.);
  • Presenting a falsified, faked, or counterfeited registration; or
  • Falsifying information about the vehicle's cargo or passenger/s.

Peace Officer

As defined by the California Penal Code PC 830, a peace officer is any person who is legally recognized to practice and enforce the law, including:

  • Any sheriff, undersheriff, or deputy sheriff, employed in that capacity, of a county, any chief of police of a city or chief, director, or chief executive officer of a consolidated municipal public safety agency that performs police functions, any police officer, employed in that capacity and appointed by the chief of police or chief, director, or chief executive of a public safety agency, of a city, any chief of police, or police officer of a district, including police officers or any inspector or investigator employed in that capacity in the office of a district attorney; or
  • The Attorney General and special agents and investigators of the Department of Justice, and those assistant chiefs, deputy chiefs, chiefs, deputy directors, and division directors designated as peace officers by the Attorney General are peace officers.

Performance of Duty

A peace officer's action constitutes as a performance of duty when he/she is doing his/her job within the legally recognized scopes of his/her work's nature. Performance of task means the execution of work and labor regularly required of a peace officer. It shall include services of an emergency nature, including apprehension and questioning a possible criminal offender.

Penalties for Violating VC 31

Providing falsified information to peace officers is a California misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are offenses worse than infractions but less severe in comparison to felonies. Violating CVC 31 is punishable by:

  • Incarceration of up to six (6) months in a California county jail; and/or
  • A fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000).

However, if the court sees it fit, instead of incarceration, a convicted offender can serve his/her sentence outside jail under probation. For misdemeanor charges, one can be subjected to summary probation.

Legal Defense

When facing CVC 31 allegations, here are some of the most common defense that a legal counsel frequently uses:

  • The defendant was coerced to give false information;
  • The defendant was subjected to unlawful questioning; or
  • The defendant never gave any false information.

Coercion – The validity of a crime is put into question when the defendant was subjected to any forms of coercion or force to commit the offense.

Unlawful Questioning – The validity of a crime is put into question when the peace officer subjected the defendant to any forms of illegal or unlawful questioning without any grounds.

No False information – The plaintiff has to prove that the defendant did purposefully give false information with malicious intent. Anyone is innocent until proven guilty under the eyes of the law.

Legal Support

From infractions to felonies, any criminal allegations should be properly dealt with. Being tried and convicted with criminal charges, specifically with offenses involving lying to law enforcement, can significantly affect a person's life. Aside from the possible incarceration and monetary penalties, one's credibility will also be put in question. Besides those, having criminal records will also be harder to get civic and social privileges like employment. To avoid dealing with such hassles, it would be best to contact our California-based lawyers immediately. They can help lessen, if not dismiss, any charges thrown unto you or anyone you know who had the misfortune of facing such legal conflicts.

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