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Now we’ve looked at quite a few charges when it comes to California’s penal code, taking apart the oftentimes complicated or even convoluted mountains of legalese that you’ll often find to get at the underlying meaning behind the law. In this post we’re going to take a look at the charge of impersonating a peace officer. It’s important to note that this charge actually differs from the charge of false impersonation, as in this law you can be charged even if no one was harmed by any of your actions and you didn’t actually benefit from it at all. But maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves. It will probably be better if we look at some of the definitions involved, the kind of punishments you can face, as well as the legal defenses that you can use to get yourself out of trouble. With that said, let’s get started with some definitions.
Definitions of Impersonating a Peace Officer
To be charged with this crime you have to have worn the uniform of a police officer with the intention of impersonating said officer or making someone else believe that you’re that officer, or instead using a badge for the same purpose of impersonating an officer or making someone think that you are one, or else making some sort of badge or other kind of insignia to someone else that makes them seem like they’re a police officer. Now with all of this said, there’s an obvious exception when it comes to uniforms being used for movies or plays, in which case you’ll have to have a written note from the department that you’re using the uniform of, saying that you have permission to use this uniform, and then only using it when you’r’e actually filming or performing, or else practicing for your performance.
Punishments for Impersonating a Peace Officer
The good news in all of this is that impersonating a peace officer is only considered to be a misdemeanor in California’s penal code. Should you actually be found guilty of this charge, you’ll be looking at a misdemeanor summary probation, up to six months in county jail, and/or a fine of up to $1,000. If you instead violate this law by using a badge, then the penalties actually increase, in which case you’ll be facing up to a year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
Legal Defenses for Impersonating a Peace Officer
One of the most common legal defenses against this charge is that you didn’t intentionally impersonate an officer or try to get others to believe that you were one. The good news is that criminal intent is actually pretty tough to prove. You could’ve been wearing the uniform as a joke, or maybe as a collector’s item that you wanrted to display. Either way, you can use this as a good legal defense to get your charges either dismissed or reduced at the very least.
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So as you can see, the law isn’t really all that daunting when you break it down into its composite parts and reel it in like a dinky fish brought to shore. It actually becomes pretty simple to figure out what the law actually means so that you can finally start to mount a competent legal defense. On that subject, if you’re facing some kind of legal crisis, it’s best that you get in touch with us right away. We’ll be able to help you out in your time of need.