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What Is the Punishment for Impersonating a Peace Officer?

June 17, 2020

The sentence includes up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

What Is the Punishment for Impersonating a Peace Officer?

Many people dream of being a police officer when they grow up. But if you’re not a police officer and pretend to be one, then you could be charged with a crime.

According to a criminal defense attorney in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, to convict a person of impersonating a peace officer, a prosecutor must prove that they:

  1. Willfully wore, exhibited, or used the authorized uniform, emblem, device, insignia, lable, certificate, card, or writing of a peace officer; or
  2. Willfully wore, exhibited, or used the authorized badge of a peace officer;
  3. With the intent to fraudulently impersonate a peace officer; or
  4. With the intent to fraudulently induce the belief that he is a peace officer.

In other words, just wearing a cop uniform isn’t enough to be charged with this crime. If it were, thousands of people could be arrested for dressing up as a police officer every year on Halloween. To be charged with this crime, you must have a fraudulent intent — either to impersonate an officer or to get others to falsely believe that you are a police officer.

For example, George thinks that there is too much crime in his neighborhood. He orders a police uniform and badge off of the internet (sold by a retired cop), and patrols his neighborhood while wearing it. He does this to make potential criminals believe that a police officer is regularly in their neighborhood. In this situation, he could be charged with impersonating a police officer because his goal was to make others believe that he was a cop.

Impersonating a peace officer is a misdemeanor offense. It is punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. If a person uses a police badge, that penalty increases to a maximum of 1 year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.

If you have been charged with the crime of impersonating a peace officer, a criminal defense attorney in Rancho Cucamonga, CA can develop factual and legal defenses to the charge. First, if you didn’t have intent to defraud, then it cannot be a crime. If you weren’t trying to trick someone into think that you were a cop, that may be a defense. Second, if you are wearing a uniform as part of a movie or other production, with permission from the police, then it is a defense to this charge. Third, if you were just playing a joke on a friend, that may be a defense that your attorney can use.

Attorney Dan E. Chambers is a former prosecutor who has significant experience handling a range of California criminal matters. If you have been charged with a crime, the Chambers Law Firm will advocate for you, working to protect your rights and your freedom. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a criminal defense attorney in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, contact us today at 855-397-0210 or dchambers@clfca.com.

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