Washington law states that you commit a crime if you alter or destroy the serial number or identification number on a vehicle or machine. The offense is a gross misdemeanor that can result in a jail term of up to one year. Please contact a skilled criminal defense attorney now if you’re facing any type of charges related to a property crime.

What is the Washington Crime of Altering the Identity of a Machine?

RCW 9A.56.180 is the Washington statute that sets forth the offense of obscuring the identity of a machine. Per this law, you commit a crime if you:

  1. Obscure the manufacturer’s serial number or any other distinguishing identification number or mark upon any vehicle, machine, engine, appliance, or other device, and
  2. Do so with the intent to render the device unidentifiable.

For the purpose of this law, “obscure” means to remove, deface, cover, alter, destroy, or otherwise render unidentifiable.

What Are the Penalties?

Obscuring the identity of a machine is a gross misdemeanor under Washington law. The crime is punishable by:

  • Imprisonment for up to one year in jail, and/or
  • A fine of up to $5,000.

Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?

Yes. You have the right to challenge a charge under RCW 9A.56.180 with a legal defense. A common defense is to show that you did not act with a criminal intent. Recall that you are only guilty of obscuring the identity of a machine if you act with the intent to render a device unidentifiable. This means you are not guilty of a crime if you altered the serial number on a device for some other reason.

Further, you can always contest a charge by showing that the police somehow violated your constitutional rights. Maybe, for example, the authorities:

  • Arrested you without probable cause,
  • Coerced a confession, or
  • Conducted an unlawful search and seizure.

If any of the above, a judge may decide to reduce your charge to a lesser offense or dismiss it in its entirety.

Contact Black & Askerov for Help

While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge an obscuring the identity of a machine charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on various types of property related charges. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers also have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these cases. Our attorneys will fight tooth and nail for you at every step of your case. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!