Criminal Law

1821. Tampering With a Vehicle

The defendant is charged [in Count ______] with (damaging/ [or] tampering with) a vehicle.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

<Alternative 1A—damaged or tampered with>

[1. The defendant willfully (damaged/ [or] tampered with) someone else's vehicle [or the contents of that vehicle];]

<Alternative 1B—broke or removed part of>

[1. The defendant willfully (broke/ [or] removed) part of someone else's vehicle;]


2. The defendant did not have the owner's consent to do that act(;/.)

<Give element 3 when instructing on "in association with" others.>


3. The defendant acted in association with one or more other persons.]

Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage.

[A vehicle is a device by which people or things may be moved on a road or highway. A vehicle does not include a device that is moved only by human power or used only on stationary rails or tracks.]

[A person acts in association with one or more other people, when he or she joins with another to accomplish a common unlawful purpose.]

Bench Notes

Instructional Duty

The court has a sua sponte duty to give this instruction defining the elements of the crime.

If the prosecution alleges that the defendant did not personally commit the act of tampering but acted "in association with" others, give bracketed element 3 and the paragraph that begins with "A person acts in association . . ." (People v. Farina (1963) 220 Cal.App.2d 291, 294 [33 Cal.Rptr. 794].) The court has a sua sponte duty to also give CALCRIM No. 416, Evidence of Uncharged Conspiracy.

The statute uses the term "injure." (Veh. Code, § 10852.) The committee has replaced the word "injure" with the word "damage" because the word "injure" generally refers to harm to a person rather than to property.

Give the bracketed definition of vehicle on request.


Elements. Veh. Code, § 10852.

Willfully Defined. Pen. Code, § 7(1); People v. Lara (1996) 44 Cal.App.4th 102, 107 [51 Cal.Rptr.2d 402].

Vehicle Defined. Veh. Code, § 670.

"In Association With" Means to Conspire With. People v. Farina (1963) 220 Cal.App.2d 291, 294 [33 Cal.Rptr. 794].

Tamper Defined. People v. Anderson (1975) 15 Cal.3d 806, 810-811 [126 Cal.Rptr. 235, 543 P.2d 603]; People v. Mooney (1983) 145 Cal.App.3d 502, 505 [193 Cal.Rptr. 381].

Secondary Sources

2 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Crimes Against Property, § 262.

6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 143, Crimes Against Property, § 143.10[1][b], [2][c] (Matthew Bender).

(New January 2006)