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I. VC 20: Providing False Information to CHP or the DMV

Legal Definition: “(a)  It is unlawful to use a false or fictitious name, or to knowingly make any false statement or knowingly conceal any material fact in any document filed with the Department of Motor Vehicles or the Department of the California Highway Patrol.”


To be found guilty of VC 20, the prosecution must prove that:

  1. You used a false or fictitious name; or
  2. You knowingly made a false statement; or
  3. You knowingly concealed a material fact;
  4. You made this statement to the DMV or a CHP Officer

II. What does this mean?

This crime is similar to VC 31, but it is expanded to apply to CHP officers and the DMV. A common example of this offense in California is a person who is a non-US Citizen, using a fake name or social security number to obtain a California Driver’s License. This also applies to when you are stopped on the freeway by CHP, if you decide to give officers a fake name or provide a fake ID card or Registration card to them, you can also be guilty under this section.

A material fact, as used here, means a fact that is relevant or significant (such as providing the above false information). Telling officers you were leaving your friend’s house, but in reality, you were leaving your girlfriend’s house, would not be considered a material fact, since it is not relevant in this circumstance where you are coming from. Another example of a non-material fact would be lying on your driver’s license about your weight out of embarrassment; this is not a material fact. This offense also requires that the false material statement be made knowingly

Imagine filling out a DMV or CHP form (after an accident), and you put down your vehicle’s wrong license plate number. This would be material since it involves the DMV registration of your vehicle or the CHP since they need that information for you to file with your insurance. But if it is not done knowingly or on purpose, such as an accidental misnumbering, then it would not be a crime here.

III. Penalties

A violation under VC 20 is a straight misdemeanor offense. If convicted, you could be sentenced to a County Jail of up to 180 days. You would be required to serve at least 50% of that time in custody. You could also be fined up to $1,000, for a violation under this section.

This is not a strike offense under the California Three Strikes law, and it is not a Sex Offense under PC 290. You could also face a loss of your Professional License if convicted, and if you are not a legal resident, you would face Deportation in Immigration Court since this crime involves dishonesty and lying to a person of authority, and may be considered a crime of moral turpitude.

IV. Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Violation of Rights
  3. Insufficient Evidence

As mentioned above, if you can show that you are not concealing a material fact, or that you did not knowingly provide false information, it can act as a defense to this crime. Here, you’d be able to argue there is insufficient evidence to prove you guilty of the crime, since the elements of the crime were not met. However, if you provide a false name, it would be hard to argue in that set of facts that the information provided was made by mistake, and this defense may not go well for you in Court.

A common defense to any driving offense can be that the officer who stopped your car, had violated your rights under the Fourth Amendment. In California, there is a motion to be made where police made an illegal or unlawful stop of you, then under PC 1538.5, you can move to suppress any evidence that came after your illegal stop. This would mean if police unlawfully stopped your vehicle for a traffic violation that you did not actually commit, then a Suppression Motion can be successful in getting the stop invalided by police, and likely lead to your case being dismissed.

V. Call Today

A criminal conviction can have a devastating impact on your life. It can affect your job, your future, and your freedom. Our Ontario VC 20 Providing False Information to CHP or the DMV attorney has successfully defended thousands of people accused of crimes throughout the entire Inland Empire. Call your local Ontario Criminal Defense Attorney today at the Inland Empire Defense 909-939-7126. Located in Ontario.

Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor should it be considered the formation of a lawyer or attorney-client relationship. If you would like to find out more information about your particular legal matter, contact our office for a consultation.

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