Interfering with someone else’s vehicle without their consent can bring significant penalties. Even if you ultimately steal nothing and cause no permanent damage, under Vehicle Code Section 10852, you can still be charged with unlawful behavior and face misdemeanor penalties.
If you are charged with violating Vehicle Code 10852, consult with a Los Angeles DUI attorney right away. Your lawyer will ensure you are properly defended and experience the best possible outcome.
What Is a Vehicle Code 10852 Violation?
California Vehicle Code 10852 makes it a crime to intentionally tamper, alone or with accomplices, with someone else’s vehicle without the vehicle owner’s consent, either alone or with accomplices.
To tamper with a vehicle is to interfere with it in some way. It could involve breaking or removing parts or otherwise damaging the vehicle. Even if your goal was not to break the law, cause injury, or gain from the interference, the act of tampering alone, willfully, and without the owner’s consent, is a code violation.
Examples of Vehicle Code 10852 Violations
Interfering with any part of the vehicle counts as a violation of the code, even if the part you damage is not essential to the vehicle’s ability to function. For example, tampering with a vehicle can mean
- You stole a hood ornament or hood-protecting bra.
- You entered an unlocked car after a night of drinking and fell asleep.
- You removed a license plate.
- You were witnessed entering an unlocked car and rummaging through the glove box. Even though you have taken nothing, you have still violated the code.
If you break into a locked car, the charges are more serious.
Penalties for Violating Vehicle Code 10852
Violating Vehicle Code 10852 is a misdemeanor offense. Penalties for misdemeanors can include up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000, which represents the typical penalty for this violation.
The judge, however, has the discretion to put the offender on summary probation instead of requiring jail time.
What Is Summary Probation?
California offers two types of probation depending on the offense and other relevant factors. There is formal probation and informal, or summary, probation.
Offenders on informal probation do not act under formal supervision. They do report to individually assigned probation officers. Instead, informal probationers report to court when required. Required times generally include when probationers:
- Submit proof of completed probation requirements, for example, classes or counseling.
- Are arrested for another violation.
- Have a change of address.
The penalty you face can become more serious if you committed additional offenses while engaged in vehicle tampering.
- If you steal change from the console, you can face petty theft charges.
- If you deface or damage the vehicle, you may face vandalism charges
- If you steal property from a vehicle that is valued at or over $950, you can face grand theft charges.
- If you attempt to manipulate the controls, levers, brakes, or other of the vehicle’s mechanisms with the intent to cause problems, you can face malicious mischief charges.
- If you take the car for a ride, even intending to return it, you can face joyriding charges.
Some of these charges fall under the misdemeanor category, but others are “wobblers,” which means they can fall into misdemeanor or felony charges, bringing significant prison time and/or fines.
How a Los Angeles DUI Attorney Can Help You
Navigating the legal system requires expert knowledge of the law and court proceedings and the ability to argue confidently against prosecuting attorneys. By trusting your case to a Los Angeles DUI attorney, you give yourself the best chance of facing reduced charges and penalties or even of having your charges dismissed.
Your lawyer will:
- Investigate your case thoroughly, collecting relevant evidence.
- File all required documentation to the court efficiently.
- Build and present a vigorous defense before the court.
- Ensure your rights are protected, and you are treated fairly by the criminal justice system.
- Provide post-trial guidance to ensure you fulfill the requirements of your penalty.
Defenses Your Los Angeles DUI Can Present
Penalties for a misdemeanor charge can disrupt your life, cost you money, and stay on your criminal record thus affecting your future. An experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney is prepared to argue a defense to reduce or dismiss your charges and the resulting penalties.
You Didn’t Intend to Interfere with the Vehicle
To be found guilty of violating Vehicle Code 10852, the prosecution must prove you acted intentionally, that you acted to “willfully injure or tamper with any vehicle or the contents thereof or break or remove any part of a vehicle without the consent of the owner.”
If the damage or tampering was the result of accidental or unintentional behavior, your lawyer may be able to argue your actions do not fulfill the requirements for guilt.
You Had Consent
Along with proving willfulness, the prosecution must show that you acted without the consent of the vehicle’s owner.
If your lawyer can prove you acted upon the owner’s request, you cannot be found guilty.
There may not be enough evidence to prove you acted intentionally or that you even tampered with the vehicle at all. Your lawyer will investigate the situation carefully. If the prosecution cannot produce a witness or video surveillance or other proof of your alleged unlawful activity, your lawyer can use those deficiencies to defend you.
You Were Falsely Accused
Sometimes, unfortunately, people with vendettas may go to extreme measures to satisfy their need for revenge or malice. Your lawyer will investigate and determine whether someone else is guilty of falsely accusing you of a crime you did not actually commit.
Do Not Wait to Contact a Los Angeles DUI Attorney
The sooner you consult with a Los Angeles DUI attorney, the sooner your lawyer can start collecting evidence and building your case. Do not face your charges and the court alone.
Contact a Los Angeles DUI attorney today. Your lawyer will have the experience and skill needed to mount a successful defense and protect your interests.