California Penal Code 538(d) PC
PC 538(d) – Impersonating A Peace Officer
Impersonating A Peace Officer – Table of Contents
- PC 538(d) Overview
- PC 538(d) Sentencing
- PC 538(d) Prosecution
- PC 538(d) Defenses
- Impersonating A Peace Officer – Hire Us
Peace officers are responsible for maintaining the order and safety of the general public. This, in turn, comes with a lot of responsibility and power that enables them to give out lawful orders and directions that the general public is expected to legally obey. This gives them more power than ordinary civilians have. This kind of power can be tempting to have, which may encourage some to pretend to be a member of law enforcement.
The California Penal Code 538(d) PC makes it a crime for anyone to impersonate a peace officer. Thus anyone who wears, exhibits, or uses the authorized uniform, emblem, insignia, device, label, certificate, card, or badge of a peace officer with the intent to fraudulently impersonate or induce the belief that they are a peace officer is considered in violation of this statute.
This statute can also be used to charge vendors of law enforcement uniforms who sell these uniforms without authenticating that the buyer is actually a law enforcement employee. This statute also applies to individuals who willfully make, sell or give away badges or insignia that appear similar to those used by peace officers.
You should know that a charge in violation of California Penal Code 538(d) PC is labeled a misdemeanor offense. Thus, anyone convicted could be facing:
- A maximum of six months in county jail
- A maximum fine of $1,000
- Informal probation
If the defendant tried to impersonate a peace officer by using a police badge, then they will face harsher penalties including:
- Up to one year to jail
- A fine of up to $2000
Law enforcement uniform vendors who face charges under this statute may be sentenced to a fine of up to $1,000.
Crimes Related To Impersonating a Peace Officer
- Resisting Arrest – California Penal Code Section 148(a) PC
- False Impersonation – California Penal Code Section 529 PC
- Identity Theft – California Penal Code 530.5 PC
There are a couple of elements that a prosecutor will have to prove, without a reasonable doubt, to get the defendant convicted for impersonating a law enforcement officer in violation of the California Penal Code 538(d). These elements include:
- The defendant willfully wore, exhibited, or used authorized insignia, emblem, device, label, certificate, card, or writing of a peace officer, or
- They willfully wore, exhibited, or used the authorized badge of a peace officer
- The defendant did so with the intent to fraudulently impersonate a peace officer or fraudulently convince someone of the belief that they are a peace officer.
For this statute, the defendant has to prove that the defendant tried to secure an unfair gain or cause another person to suffer a loss. Thus, whether you actually obtained an unfair gain or no one was harmed because of your actions is irrelevant to the case. So long as the prosecutor can prove you had intent to fraudulently impersonate a law enforcement officer. You can be charged under California Penal Code 536(d) PC.
There are a couple of defenses that one can use to fight charges for impersonating a law enforcement officer. A criminal defense attorney can help you comb through your case files and figure out which defense strategy will be best for you. Some of these defenses include:
Used Solely As A Film or Theater Prop
Movie or play screens sometimes have scenes that require a uniformed police officer. If an actor wears a law enforcement uniform for the sole purpose of using it as a prop in a movie or play, and they had written permission from a peace officer. They can be an exception from the California Penal Code 538(d) PC. Thus, they should not be convicted under it.
No Intent to Fraudulently Impersonate a Peace Officer
A person can only be convicted for impersonating a law enforcement officer if they intended to act fraudulently. Thus, if the defendant can prove that they did not impersonate a peace officer with fraudulent intent, perhaps they were doing it to prank a friend. Then the defendant can use this to challenge charges under California Penal Code 538(d) PC.
If you facing charges for impersonating a police officer defying California Penal Code 538(d) PC, you should contract the services of a criminal defense attorney like Seppi Esfandi as soon as possible. Esfandi has the experience and expertise to confidently handle your case and ensure you get the best defense possible in court.
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Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Criminal Defense Attorney who has over 20 years of practice defending a variety of criminal cases.
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