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I don't know if it's still the case, but it used to be in Virginia that it was the buyer's responsibility to notify the DMV; the seller signed and handed over the title; if the buyer never registered the car it would be completely possible for the DMV to not have record of the transfer in that case.

While not required, the seller can also mail back their registration with a notice of sale (there is a small form on the back of the registration card, if I remember correctly).

Looks like Virginia is currently one of those states where you have to turn in the license plates -- so how would the camera ticket get to you? https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/vehicles/#selling.asp

In California, the plates stay with the car (unless they are vanity or you are attached to your plate number)

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