The Consequences of Pretending
The only acceptable time to impersonate a public servant is on Halloween,
which is next month. Even then, you can get in serious trouble for doing
more than just dressing up in a costume. Among the best ways to avoid
a criminal conviction is to understand the laws governing impersonation
and false identification of public servants.
Impersonating Public Servant
In Texas, “public servant” means a person elected, selected, appointed, employed, or otherwise
designated as one of the following, even they aren’t yet qualified
for office or assumed their duties:
- an officer, employee, or agent of the government
- a juror or grand juror
- an arbitrator, referee, or another person who is authorized by law or private
written agreement to hear or determine a cause or controversy
- an attorney at law or notary public when participating in the performance
of a governmental function
- a candidate for nomination or election to public office
- a person who is performing a governmental function under a claim of right
although he is not legally qualified to do so
A person commits the offense of impersonating a public servant if they
do the following:
- impersonate a public servant with the intent to induce another to submit
to the person’s pretended official authority or to rely on the person’s
pretended official acts; or
- knowingly purport to exercise, without legal authority, any function of
a public servant or of a public office, including that of a judge and court.
If convicted, you will be charged with a felony of the third degree.
False Identification as Peace Officer; Misrepresentation of Property
An extension of the above statute,
Texas Penal Code § 37.12. criminalizes false identification as a peace officer as well as the misrepresentation
of property. A person commits an offense if they intentionally or knowingly
misrepresent an object, including a vehicle, as property belonging to
a law enforcement agency.
According to this statute, a person commits an offense if they do the following:
- make, provide to another person, or possesses a card, document, badge,
insignia, shoulder emblem, or another item, including a vehicle, bearing
an insignia of a law enforcement agency that identifies a person as a
peace officer or a reserve law enforcement officer; and
- make, provide, or possess the item bearing the insignia knowing they are
not commissioned as a peace officer or reserve law enforcement officer
as indicated on the item.
An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor.
Don’t let your criminal accusations for impersonating and falsely
identifying as a police officer tear you down. You have legal rights and
options to fight your charges. To learn how our Fort Worth criminal defense
lawyers at Jerry Loftin & Associates can help you,
contact (817) 429-2000 for a free consultation!