Unique California Crimes – Impersonating Law Enforcement
In recent news, a California trio is accused of running a law enforcement group called the Masonic Fraternal Police Department. Officials say David Henry, Tonette Hayes and Brandon Kiel are members of the group and have been impersonating officers for years.
Uniforms, weapons and vehicles were found on a premises linked to the group. When asked what the difference is between the police department and the Masonic Fraternal Police Department their answer is that they were here first. The group’s website states, “we are born into this organization, our bloodlines go deeper than an application.”
California Penal Code § 538(d)
The California Penal Code criminalizes the impersonation of a police officer in section 538(d). Law enforcement officials have the authority to exercise a certain amount of power in various situations, as compared to the average citizen. Someone may impersonate an officer to gain compliance from another. Impersonating an officer is a criminal offense in California, as it is in many other states.
Any person other than one who by law is given the authority of a peace officer, who willfully wears, exhibits or uses the authorized uniform, insignia, emblem, device, label or certificate of a peace officer with the intent of fraudulently impersonating a peace officer, or fraudulently induces the belief that he/she is a peace officer is guilty of a misdemeanor. If convicted a defendant faces imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed 1 year and by a fine not to exceed $2,000, or a combination of both.
Likewise it is a misdemeanor for any person that willfully wears or uses any badge that falsely purports to be authorized for the use of one who by law is given the authority of a peace officer, or which so resembles the authorized badge of a peace officer as would deceive any ordinary reasonable person into believing that it is authorized for the use of one who by law is given the authority of a peace officer, for the purpose of fraudulently impersonating a peace officer, or of fraudulently inducing the belief that he or she is a peace officer. A conviction results a jail sentence of up to 1 year, a fine up to $2,000 or a combination of both.
Those who sell law enforcement uniforms to individuals without verifying that they in fact work for a law enforcement agency can be prosecuted under California Penal Code 538(d) as well as those who manufacture or sell false police badges.
Consult an Experienced Defense Attorney
While the misdemeanor offense carries a hefty potential maximum sentence, there is potential for a probationary sentence depending on your criminal history and the facts of your case. A conviction not only results in potential jail time, fees and costs, and/or potential probation, it results in a permanent stamp on your record.
A conviction can follow you your entire life. It is important to hire an attorney who can defend your case and negotiate a potential dismissal or favorable plea. In the event your case proceeds to trial you want an attorney who knows the court system and knows the law. The Rodriguez Law Group has the experience and skills you want on your side. Attorney Rodriguez is a former prosecutor who knows how the prosecution works and the typical mistakes they make. As a defense attorney, he uses his expertise and knowledge to your advantage. Call our office today to speak with him about your case.