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Attaching a Tag Not Assigned in Florida

Representation from Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyers

When someone hears “attaching tag not assigned,” most people don’t think that it refers to a criminal offense. In reality it is a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and $500 fine.

Florida Statute Section 320.261

This offense is committed when someone knowingly attaches to a vehicle a license plate or a tag that has not been lawfully assigned by the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles to that particular vehicle. A common example is when someone buys a new car and brings a tag with them and just puts it on the car. When an officer runs the tag, he sees it is not assigned to it, and pulls the person over.

Our Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys have seen this happen multiple times at the fault of the dealership as well. The dealer will say that they will take care of the paperwork and mail the registration in, but nothing happens, and that person than ends up with a criminal traffic ticket for attaching tag not assigned.

Elements of the crime:

  • The registration license plate or validation sticker was not lawfully issued and assigned to that vehicle; and
  • The accused attached a registration license plate or validation sticker to a vehicle; OR
  • The accused knew that the plate or sticker was not lawfully issued and assigned to the vehicle.

Going to Court

Most people get the ticket and follow the mandatory requirement to schedule it for a hearing. When they see a judge, they enter a plea of no contest, not realizing that they just entered a plea to a criminal offense. The person then just pays the court costs and goes on with their business. The problem is that even if adjudication was withheld (which means no conviction), it is still a criminal plea, which must be disclosed on future job applications. This is why a person accused of this offense should never enter a plea without consulting with a Jacksonville traffic crime attorney.

Possible Defenses at Trial

Even if the defendant makes a full admission, it may not be enough for the State to prove their case, since the State must be able to establish each element of the crime independent of the confession (this principle is known as corpus delicti). The prosecution must prove either that the defendant himself attached the tag, plate, or sticker at issue, or that the defendant knew the tag, plate, or sticker was not assigned to the vehicle. In the scenario where the dealer is the one attaching the tag, there may be a defense. With no admission, the State must have an independent witness who can testify that the defendant attached the tag or new the tag did not below to that car.

If the prosecutor cannot establish a corpus delicti, then the defendant’s statements become inadmissible in court. The prosecutor would then have to find an independent witness who saw the defendant put on the wrong tag on the car. This rarely, if ever, is the case. Also to the defendant’s advantage, there is usually no documentation recorded when a person attaches a tag.

Get the legal help you need today. Call (904) 615-8950 to schedule a free initial consultation with our Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers.

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