False Impersonation – California Penal Code 529 PC

Forgery - false impersonation
Using another person’s passport, driver’s license or other form of identification is illegal under California false impersonation laws (Penal Code 529 PC).

After having a few drinks with some coworkers, you decide to drive home, hoping that you don’t get pulled over. Just as this thought crosses your mind, you see the lights of a police vehicle appear in your rear-view.  As you are thinking about how you’re going to explain this to your family, the officer approaches you and asks for your license and registration.

In the midst of panic, you claim you don’t have your driver’s license and give your cousin’s name instead. Now that you’re stuck in your lie, you hold onto this identity, giving your cousin’s birthdate and other relevant information.  You also refuse chemical testing, causing your cousin’s license to be automatically suspended.  Eventually the truth is discovered, and in addition to being charged with DUI, you are also charged with the crime of false impersonation (also known as false personation).

Under California Penal Code 529 PC, a person is guilty of the crime of false impersonation if he or she “falsely personates another in either his or her private or official capacity, and in that assumed character does any of the following:

  1. Becomes bail or surety for any party in any whatever, before any court or officer authorized to take that bail or surety;
  2. Verifies, publishes, acknowledges, or proves, in the name of another person, any written instrument, with intent that the same may be recorded, delivered, or used as true;
  3. Does any other act whereby, if done by the person falsely personated, he might, in any event, become liable to any suit or prosecution, or to pay any sum of, or to incur any charge, forfeiture, or penalty, or whereby any benefit might accrue to the party personating, or to any other person.”

Prosecution of False Impersonation Under California Penal Code 529 PC

In for you to be found guilty of false impersonation in violation of California Penal Code 529 PC, the prosecution must prove all of the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. You falsely impersonated another person in the other person’s or official capacity; AND
  2. While falsely impersonating that person, you:
  • Posted bail or acted as surety for anyone in any proceeding, before any judge or officer authorized to take that bail or surety; OR
  • Verified, published, acknowledged, or proved, in the name of that person, any written document; AND
  1. When you did so, you:
    • Intended that the written document be recorded, delivered, or used as though it were an authentic document; OR
    • Did anything that, if done by the person being falsely impersonated, might cause:
    • That person to be liable in a lawsuit or criminal prosecution or that person to pay any amount of money;
    • That person to be subject to any charge, forfeiture or penalty; OR
    • You or anyone else to receive a benefit as a result.

 

Sentencing and Punishment for False Impersonation – California Penal Code 529 PC

punishment for false impersonation 529 pc
If you are convicted of false impersonation in violation of California Penal Code 529 PC, you face up to three years in state prison.

The crime of false impersonation is considered a “wobbler” crime, meaning that you can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts of case.

If you are convicted of a misdemeanor Penal Code 529 PC violation, you face a sentence of up to 364 days in jail.  If you are convicted of a felony, you face a sentence of 16 months, two or three years in state prison.

Possible Defenses to Charges of False Impersonation

A skilled criminal defense attorney will be able to raise several defenses in your case.  These may include:

  • The person you were impersonating doesn’t.  If this person was just someone completely fictional, then you cannot be convicted of this crime. However, you could be convicted of providing false information to a police officer;
  • You did not intend to for the written document you used when you identified yourself as another person to be recorded, delivered, or used as though it were an authentic document; or
  • You didn’t create any liabilities for the other person, or gain any benefits for yourself or someone else.  If nothing happened or could happen while you impersonating someone, then you cannot be convicted of this crime.

 

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding False Impersonation Laws – 529 PC

What if I the person I impersonated is deceased?

While it would be impossible for the deceased person to suffer any real harm or any actual liability, you can still be convicted of false impersonation if the prosecution can prove that you or another person could have received a benefit as a result of impersonating.

What if the person I impersonated did not suffer any actual harm or liability?

It is not required that the prosecution prove that the alleged victim suffered any actual harm or liability. The prosecution need only prove that the alleged victim could have suffered harm or liability as a result of your impersonating.

What if I give a false name to a police officer but that was it?

If you gave a false name to a police officer in to avoid liability for a criminal prosecution or to avoid paying fees for a traffic violation, you can still be convicted of false impersonation even if you did not give the officer falsely identifying documents (such as another person’s ID).

Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

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The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been defending those charged with false impersonation under Penal Code 529 PC for over 40 years.

If you or a loved one has been charged with false impersonation under California Penal Code 529 PC, you need to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.

At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled criminal defense attorneys have been successfully defending those facing criminal charges of false impersonation for over 40 years. We will meet with you immediately to review the facts of your case, and plan a defense strategy that will help you get the very best outcome possible.

With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina, and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation.  We will be there when you call.

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