California Vehicle Code Section 31 VC makes it against the law to give false information to a police officer. Generally, this involves lying to the police during a traffic stop or regarding a driver's license, registration, or insurance. CVC 31 charges generally accompany other vehicle offenses, and can increase the likelihood of additional penalties. Before facing a judge on your own, contact your local East Bay criminal defense lawyer.
Vehicle Code 31 VC Text
“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.”
Penalties for Vehicle Code 31 VC
Making false statements to a peace officer is a misdemeanor offense in California. Penalties for a conviction can include up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. In most cases, CVC 31 is not charged on its own but it accompanies other traffic violations, such as:
- Vehicle Code 12500 VC - Driving Without a License
- Vehicle Code 14601 VC - Driving on a Suspended License
- Vehicle Code 23152 VC - DUI
- Vehicle Code 23103 VC - Reckless Driving
What is Considered False Information to Police?
What a police officer considers to be false information can include just about anything. In a traffic stop situation, false information can include:
- Using a fake driver's license
- Using someone else's license
- Providing a false name
- Using a fake vehicle registration
- Claiming to own the vehicle when it belongs to someone else
- Denying having consumed alcohol after drinking
- Claiming someone else was driving after an accident
Lying About Something Minor Can Lead to Bigger Problems
A traffic stop can be stressful, even if the driver is totally innocent and has done nothing wrong. However, drivers may tell a small mistruth because they think it will avoid further questions. Unfortunately, a small lie can lead to bigger problems.
For example, if a person was driving home after going to the strip club, they may not want to admit it to an officer and say they were coming from the grocery store. If the officer suspects the answer is not the truth, they may further press the driver to catch them in a lie and have a basis to make an arrest.
The police ask a lot of questions during a traffic stop that can be used to justify an extended traffic stop, search of the vehicle, or give probable cause to make an arrest. Even if you are embarrassed about something or don't want to tell the police the truth, you should not lie. Remaining silent is your right and between lying and admitting that you did something illegal, silence may be your best option.
How Can the Police Tell You Are Lying?
The police have a lot of experience dealing with drivers and have heard a number of lies for all sorts of reasons. There are a few ways the police can identify someone may not be telling the truth, including:
- Witnessing the driver do something they denied
- Talking to the driver and passenger separately to identify conflicting statements
- Asking the same question a different way to get a different answer
If the police see a vehicle leave the parking lot of a bar and get on the road, the officer may suspect the driver was in the bar and may have been drinking. If the police see the driver commit any minor traffic violation, they have reason to make a traffic stop. If the police ask the driver where they were coming from and the driver says they were coming directly from a friend's house, the police would have a strong suspicion the driver was lying because they saw the driver come directly from the bar.
Most people have seen the situation on Cops or some police drama where the police question 2 people separately to find conflicts in the stories. For example, if the police see drugs on the floor of a car, they may separate the passenger and driver. If the passenger says the drugs belong to the driver and the driver says the drugs belong to the passenger, they will know at least one person is lying.
Defense Strategies for False Statement Charges
There are defense strategies to charges of making a false statement to police. If you did not know or did not intend to make a false statement, you should not be convicted of making a false statement. For example, a friend loaned you their car but did not tell you the vehicle was stolen. If you said your friend owned the vehicle, even if it was not true, you did not intend to make a false statement.
Defense Lawyer for 31 VC Charges in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties
East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 35 years of criminal defense experience and understands the consequences of each additional criminal charge. Representing drivers in Alameda County and Contra Costa County, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the local traffic and criminal laws, local officers, and the prosecutors involved. Contact East Bay defense lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.