Vehicle Code 10853 VC - Malicious Mischief to a Vehicle

If you’ve received a citation in the mail for a Vehicle Code 10853 VC violation, you might be wondering just what you should know about it. This is a pretty straightforward offense, and we’ll explain it all below. We focus on the following highlights:

What is Vehicle Code 10853 VC?

There’s no better place to start with a traffic citation than with the legislation from which it comes, right? California legislation reads: “No person shall with intent to commit any malicious mischief, injury, or other crime, climb into or upon a vehicle whether it is in motion or at rest, nor shall any person attempt to manipulate any of the levers, starting mechanism, brakes, or other mechanism or device of a vehicle while the same is at rest and unattended, nor shall any person set in motion any vehicle while the same is at rest and unattended.”

This one gets a little confusing with all of the words, so let’s break it down into simpler terms. Essentially, Vehicle Code 10853 VC states that you can’t get in, or on, a vehicle in a parking lot or that is moving deliberately intending to cause it harm or mess with it cosmetically or functionally (including defacing the hood ornament). It also adds that you are not allowed to set an unmanned vehicle into motion by, for instance, putting it into neutral and taking off the parking brake. This citation also implies that it applies only in situations where you are doing any of these things without the owner’s knowledge and consent.

What does it mean to have violated Vehicle Code 10853 VC?

Still a little complicated, right? Let’s put together a few fictional situations where a Vehicle Code 10853 VC violation would apply, using our California resident, Adam, to help us out.

Adam’s neighbor has been a jerk lately, so he decides to make him “pay for it” by going out to his car and giving it a few dings. He scrapes at its paint with his keys and perhaps breaks a window and mirror. His intent is to damage the car and create mischief, so he’s guilty of a Vehicle Code 10853 VC violation.

In another circumstance, Adam decides to get back at his mean roommate by taking his keys and breaking into his car to put it neutral and have it crash into the fence. This would also be a Vehicle Code 10853 VC violation because he deliberately set a car into motion that wasn’t in motion, specifically to damage it (and it doesn’t belong to him).

In a particularly dangerous version of events, let’s say Adam really, really hates his roommate and wants to give him a scare. He sneaks into his roommate’s car and messes with the gearshift and/or brake lines so that nothing is working as it should. Since the car would be damaged, Adam would be guilty of a Vehicle Code 10853 VC violation (not to mention quite a lot of other crimes).

Finally, Adam is angry at his girlfriend, Fiona, who just broke up with him. She tries to leave and he deliberately jumps onto the hood of her car as she starts to drive away to try and stop her. He jumps up and down on the hood in order to get her to stop, damaging her car in the process. Because he is tampering with a vehicle in motion, he’s guilty of a Vehicle Code 10853 VC violation.

All of these examples are considered Vehicle Code 10853 VC violations because they are done specifically to cause harm and act maliciously, and they are done without the consent or knowledge of their owner. In situations where Adam has their permission to do all of these things (as strange as it may sound), he would be free from conviction because it was done with the registered owner of the vehicle.

Similarly, if it were his own vehicle he did this to (perhaps he is having to give it away to a scrap yard and decides to shoot at it with a BB gun), a Vehicle Code 10853 VC violation wouldn’t stand because Adam, himself, is the registered owner of his vehicle.

What can I do about this violation?

All of these situations sound pretty serious, and they are. That being said, California has this classified as a misdemeanor. This means that being convicted can leave you facing a county jail sentence of up to 6 months, and a fine of up to $1, 000. If you are guilty of this offense, the best thing to do is plead as such and accept the punishment without contesting it.

However, there are exceptions to this citation, as discussed above. If any of these apply to you (especially if it’s something like you are falsely accused or you are the legal owner of the vehicle), you are within your rights to plead your case in court with legal counsel to help.

Other possible Vehicle Code violation connections

Certain traffic citations are closely linked to each other and they can be added to a person’s ticket if the peace officer or the court determines that these offenses are applicable. Some of the most common connections to a Vehicle Code 10853 VC violation are:

  • Vehicle Code 10851 VC: This particular violation is related to joyriding in someone else’s car without their knowledge or consent.
  • Vehicle Code 10852 VC: This citation would imply that you’ve rummaged through someone else’s car or took something from it, thereby tampering with or injuring it.

There are also some penal code offenses, too, but for the purposes of our explanation, we’ll keep it focused specifically on traffic code violations! In some cases, these citations could be added to a Vehicle Code 10853 VC violation, or they could be used (on their own, or together) in place of the Vehicle Code 10853 VC violation.

Is this ticket eligible for traffic school?

This ticket is not eligible for traffic school because it isn’t considered to be a moving citation. Eligibility for any accredited traffic school, such as MM TRAFFIC SCHOOL, focuses on receiving a traffic violation that is directly related to moving the vehicle. In attending traffic school, you’d learn how to adjust your driving techniques and skills to help prevent you from getting this ticket again in the future. For example: yielding at a stop sign instead of coming to a full stop. Since this ticket isn’t related to the actual driving technique, there would be no re-training required.

Still not entirely sure why a Vehicle Code 10853 VC violation doesn’t qualify for traffic school? Please contact us and we’ll be happy to explain it to you. Have general questions about eligibility? We’re happy to help you out with that, too. Similarly, you can reach out to the court that issued your ticket, too, as they’ll be a bit more familiar with your personal case’s details!

How can I avoid a ticket for a Vehicle Code 10853 VC violation?

To protect yourself from an unnecessary citation on your driving record, you’ll want to avoid it, if at all possible. Depending on the circumstances why a potential Vehicle Code 10853 VC violation would be given to you, your approach will differ.

For example, if it’s any of the situations above where you were trying to get back at a malicious roommate or stop a partner from storming out after a fight, proper behavior and management of your emotions would be your best defense of this. Going after someone’s car, no matter what the situation, is never going to be the best way to get back at them or to stop them from physically leaving. Not only will it not get you what you want, but it can also earn you a Vehicle Code 10853 VC violation for your trouble!

Similarly, understand that this ticket is all about malicious intent without the knowledge of the registered owner. You are going out to get into, or onto, the car and damage it cosmetically or in its function specifically to cause harm to it. Even if your intention was just to beat up the car, and it had nothing to do with the owner (say you just choose a random car in a parking lot), you are still accessing it and damaging it with the intention of, well, damaging it.

As far as protecting yourself, the general rule of thumb is going to never touch another person’s car without their explicit permission or consent, and ignore any malicious thoughts or intentions that make you want to go out and take a sledgehammer to it. The price and Vehicle Code 10853 VC citation will never be worth it, no matter how much anger you feel. Remember: a Vehicle Code 10853 VC violation only is going to be valid if you are deliberately causing harm to someone else’s vehicle without their consent to do so. If you are the registered owner, or you have their permission to deliberately cause harm both cosmetically and in its actual function, this violation wouldn’t apply!



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