Attached Tag not Assigned

Criminal Defense Lawyers Representing Clearwater Residents

Traffic criminal offenses are some of the most common types of criminal charges that our clients face. Because Florida is a state with such an inadequate (and in some places non-existent) public transit system, most people are required to use vehicles to get around. Motor vehicle use, because of the potential for damage that goes along with them, is heavily regulated by the state. We must have drivers licenses, we must have car insurance, and we must register the car in the state in which we reside. In order to enforce some of those regulations, the state of Florida has made the failure to follow some of those regulations a criminal offense.

One very common offense is known as attaching an unassigned tag. Officers typically have the ability to run the license plate of vehicles travelling on the road way and can quickly determine if a specific tag is assigned to the vehicle to which it is attached. If they see that a tag is not assigned to the specific car, they will conduct a traffic stop and begin their investigation. People stopped with a tag that is not registered or from a different vehicle often think that they have no chance fighting the criminal charges, but in truth this offense is very difficult for the prosecution to prove. Hiring a skilled Clearwater traffic criminal attorney can mean the difference between you keeping a clean record or a criminal conviction.

Can the State Prove the Crime?

Attaching an unassigned tag is a second degree misdemeanor, the lowest criminal charge one can receive in Florida. It is punishable by up to 60 days in jail or six months on probation, but people typically receive much lower sentences. Often, people are offered a fine in exchange for a guilty plea to the charges of attaching an unassigned tag and choose to take the easy route and resolve their case with a plea agreement. This is a mistake, as you should never plea to a case, no matter how minor, without first consulting a lawyer about your rights and the prosecution’s ability or lack thereof to prove the case against you.

It seems like a simple criminal charge, and most defendants believe that they have been “caught red handed.” But the specific language of the statute creates a very strong built in defense. The statute states that “any person who knowingly attaches to any motor vehicle or mobile home any registration license plate … is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree.” Notice that the law does not prohibit you from “driving” a motor vehicle with an unassigned tag, but only “attaching” the tag. Criminal statutes are complicated and are often written to be purposely confusing. A skilled Clearwater traffic criminal lawyer will be able to understand and interpret these statutes in the best way for your case.

This means that if the prosecutor cannot prove that you yourself attached the tag, they cannot prove the case against you. In order to prove that element of the crime, the prosecution must prove that someone actually observed you put the tag on the car, or they must prove that you admitted to attaching the tag yourself. Most often, there will be no witnesses who can say they saw you attach the tag. If an officer questions you about how the tag got on the car or whether you put it there, you should politely decline to answer and tell him or her that you would like to speak with your lawyer before answering any questions. Talking to the police about the crimes you committed almost never helps you out, you should talk to your lawyer first.

Speak to a Dedicated Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

The Clearwater traffic criminal lawyers at Hanlon law have the experience and dedication that you need to build the best defense for your case. Call us today at (727) 897-5413.