California's "False Impersonation" Laws
Penal Code 529 PC

California's false personation laws make it a crime to impersonate someone else in order to harm that person, or to gain a benefit for yourself.

As a law firm of former cops and DAs,1 we draw on decades of experience investigating, prosecuting and defending these sorts of cases. We wrote the legal primer below to explain the laws and how they work.

Specifically, we will address:

1. The Legal Definition of False Personation in California

1.1. The law

2. Examples

2.1. People v. Stacy

2.2. People v. Rathert

2.3. Online impersonation

3. Legal Defenses

3.1. You didn't commit an "additional act"

3.2. Your act didn't create any possible
liability or benefits

3.3. False accusations / mistaken identity

4. Penalties, Punishment, and Sentencing
5. Related Offenses

5.1. Additional California false impersonation offenses

5.2. Additional California fraud offenses

If, after reading this article, you would like more information, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

In addition, you may also find helpful information in our related articles on California's Fraud Laws; Penal Code 530.5 PC California's Identity Theft Law; Penal Code 484 PC Grand Theft by False Pretenses; California Cyberstalking Laws; Vehicle Code 31 VC Giving False Information to an Officer; Unemployment Insurance Fraud; Workers' Compensation Fraud; Real Estate and Mortgage Fraud; Automobile Insurance Fraud; Federal Crimes; Wobblers; Misdemeanors; Felonies; and Legal Defenses.

1. The Legal Definition of False Personation in California

California's false impersonation laws serve two purposes:  The first is to prevent harm to the person being falsely represented.  The second is to ensure the integrity of the judicial and governmental process.2

False personation...more commonly referred to as false impersonation...takes place when you falsely assume the identity of another person in order to gain a personal benefit or cause harm to the other person.

This definition necessarily implies that the person whom you are impersonating is a real person and not a fictitious one...even if the individual is deceased.3


Example:  The police detain you for shoplifting.  When the officer asks your name, you reply James Bond.  Because James Bond isn't a real person, you would not be guilty of violating California's false impersonation law.  However, you could be guilty of violating either

1.1. The law

California Penal Code 529 PC reads,

Every person who falsely personates another person in either his/her private or official capacity...and while impersonating that person

  1. becomes bail or surety for any party in any proceeding whatever, before any court or officer authorized to take such bail or surety (for example, agreeing to bail someone out of jail while you fraudulently assign the risks/obligations to the person you are impersonating),
  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 (for example, posing as another person in order to cash that individual's check), or
  3. does any other act that
(a) if done by the person falsely impersonated might subject that individual to criminal or civil liability, debt, or forfeiture

(for example, using your brother's name instead of you own when you are being issued a speeding ticket, since impersonating your brother subjects him to an infraction, to a possible increase in his/her car insurance, and to a possible arrest warrant since he won't know about the ticket and, consequently, will not take the appropriate steps to clear it from his record),

OR

(b) may cause an undue benefit to either the person doing the impersonating or to another person (using the same example, by posing as your brother, you are relieving yourself of the fines and insurance repercussions of having a ticket on your record)

is guilty of this offense.5 You don't violate California's false impersonation law merely because you happen to resemble another person.  To be liable for this offense, you must wage intentional deception.6

2. Examples

As you can see, there are a variety of ways to violate California's false impersonation law.  However, it is the third section above that is most commonly prosecuted.  Below are some examples of real cases from which you can gain a better understanding of the types of cases that police and prosecutors actually pursue.

2.1. People v. Stacy

Defendant Mirya Stacy was stopped by the police on suspicion of driving under the influence.  When the officer asked her name, she told him it was Amber Strobecky and that her birthday was April 2, 1984.  She told the officer she didn't have a license or photo i.d. on her but provided a mailing address and driver's license number that matched Strobecky's name.

However, (1) the birth date she provided was one year off, (2) she wasn't able to provide a maiden name that matched either of those listen in Strobecky's database, and (3) the photo that the officer retrieved from the "Cal Photo" database for Strobecky didn't look like Stacy.

Stacy continued to lie about her identity even after she was arrested and during the course of the blood alcohol testing procedures.  Once she was fingerprinted, the officers confronted her about her true identity, where she admitted she lied and used her cousin's name because she had outstanding warrants for her arrest.  Stacy was ultimately convicted of false personation, driving under the influence and driving on a suspended license.  She challenged the false personation conviction.

The California Court of Appeal upheld Stacy's conviction for false impersonation because

  1. there was substantial evidence that Amber Strobecky was an actual person,
  2. Stacy's purpose in personating Strobecky was in the hope that it would be Strobecky and not she who would be punished for D.U.I., which satisfied the requirement that the person impersonated "might" become liable in a prosecution or to incur a charge or penalty, and
  3. Stacy not only orally falsely identified herself to the officer but committed an additional act of refusing to complete a mandatory second breath test or consent to having her blood drawn.  Her refusal to complete chemical testing while posing as Strobecky put Strobecky at risk of liability for refusing to submit to and/or complete California's chemical testing requirements.7

2.2. People v. Rathert

Cherise Hartley asked her friend, the defendant Russell Rathert to cash a check for her.  The check belonged to...and was endorsed by...Chris Laughrey, the father of Cherise's children, who was in a rehabilitation facility.

Rathert entered a convenience store intending to cash Laughrey's check.  Cherise had even given him Laughrey's driver's license to use as identification.  When the clerk noticed that the photo on the license wasn't the defendant, he called his manager who called the police suspecting that the check was fraudulent.  When the police arrived, Rathert left the store, got into Cherise's car, and the two drove away.  When the police stopped the car, Rathert gave the officer two false names.  He later claimed he did so because he was on parole and therefore "would have been assumed guilty of anything".

Even though Rathert arguably violated section two of Penal Code 529 PC by presenting another person's check intending that he be able to cash it, the prosecutors relied on the theory presented under subdivision three...that is, that Rathert falsely impersonated another person who could potentially become liable to any suit or prosecution or that Rathert's act could have resulted in a benefit to himself or another.

And the California Supreme Court upheld that theory, holding that Penal Code 529 section 3 "doesn't explicitly require that a defendant who impersonates another specifically intend to cause the latter to become liable to any suit or prosecution or to pay any sum of money, or specifically intend to benefit defendant himself or another person.  To the contrary, the Legislature sought to deter and to punish all acts by an impersonator that might result in a liability or a benefit, whether or not such a consequence was intended or even foreseen".8

2.3. Online impersonation in California

Online false impersonation is rampant and can be particularly devastating.  Depending on the circumstances, online personation can include crimes such as

  • cyberstalking,
  • identity theft,
  • petty or grand theft, or
  • a myriad of additional fraud charges.

Online impersonation in California is quite popular, as it often the easiest way to falsely personate another person in order to

  • discredit that individual's reputation (perhaps to make a soon-to-be "ex" spouse out to be a parent involved in conduct that would render him/her unsuitable to have custody over your children),
  • collect that person's benefits or access that individual's finances,
  • cause physical harm to that person, or
  • simply harass or even make fun of the impersonated individual.

The repercussions of online impersonation can result in substantially harmful consequences to the person being personated.  In one of the first successfully prosecuted cases involving on-line impersonation, the Los Angeles District Attorney's office convicted a man of violating California's cyberstalking laws when he falsely impersonated a woman who had rejected his romantic advances.  He posed as the woman in a number of chat rooms telling other "chatters" that she fantasized about being raped.  He provided her phone number and address so that people wishing to fulfill her fantasy could actually do so.9

3. Legal Defenses

There are a number of legal defenses that a skilled California fraud defense attorney can present on your behalf.  The following are some of the most common.

3.1. You didn't commit an "additional act"

Penal Code 529 PC requires that in addition to identifying oneself falsely, you must commit an additional act beyond the initial false personation.  This means that if you committed no such act, you should be acquitted of this charge.

As San Bernardino County criminal defense attorney Michael Scafiddi10 explains, "Examples of these types of 'additional acts' include signing someone else's name to a citation or booking form, or submitting to fingerprints while impersonating another person.  Simply giving a false middle name and birth date do not qualify as additional acts as they do no more than provide the false information on which a false impersonation charge is based."11

3.2. Your act didn't create any possible liability or benefits

In order to be convicted of violating section 3 of Penal Code 529 PC, you must create either (1) the possibility that the person you are impersonating will be subject to penalties, prosecution, etc., or (2) a benefit for yourself or another person.

It therefore stands to reason that if your act does neither of these, you haven't violated California's false impersonation law.

This could be the case if, for example, you were impersonating another person just for entertainment.  If the person you are impersonating won't be subject to any harm...and neither you nor another person is receiving a benefit from the impersonation...then you are not breaking this law.

It's important, however, to keep in mind that this offense doesn't require that there be an actual harm or benefit, just the potential to create one.12

3.3. False accusations / mistaken identity

Outright innocence is, of course, the best defense.  If we can establish the fact that someone either falsely accused you of false impersonation or that you were the victim of mistaken identity, then your charges should be dismissed.

Let's say that you caught someone falsely impersonating another person and threatened to report the conduct.  Before you could do so, that individual reported you as the culprit...giving an accurate account of the illegal activity...to cover up his own criminal culpability.

Or perhaps a woman with whom you used to live is the victim of identity theft.  Because you are the only person who she believes had access to her personal information, she accuses you of falsely impersonating her to drain her online bank account.  In reality, you knew nothing of the matter.

As you can imagine, there are a number of reasons why you could be wrongly implicated based on false accusations or due to mistaken identity.  But not to worry, we're here to help.  With our more than 100 combined years of legal experience, we know the most effective investigation techniques to uncover the truth in an effort to help clear your false charges.

4. Penalties, Punishment, and Sentencing

False impersonation per Penal Code 529 PC is what is known as a wobbler.  A "wobbler" is a crime which the prosecutor can elect to file as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on

  1. the facts of your case, and
  2. your criminal history.

If convicted of this offense as a misdemeanor, you face up to one year in a county jail and a maximum $10,000 fine.  If convicted of the felony, you face 16 months, or two or three years in the California state prison and the same potential fine.13

And...depending on the circumstances...you could face a variety of additional penalties depending on what additional crimes (if any) you are also convicted of.  Which leads to our final section...

5. Related Offenses

5.1. Additional false impersonation offenses

There are actually quite a few offenses that may be classified under California's false impersonation laws.  Penal Code 529 PC is simply the most commonly violated and most commonly prosecuted.  Some of the others include (but are not limited to):

  • Penal Code 146a PC impersonating a public officer (that is, a state investigator, inspector, deputy, or clerk),14
  • Penal Code 538d PC impersonating a peace officer,15
  • Vehicle Code 27 VC impersonating a California Highway Patrol Officer,16
  • Penal Code 538e PC impersonating a firefighter,17
  • Penal Code 530 falsely impersonating another and obtaining money or other property,18 and
  • Penal Code 528 PC marriage under false impersonation.19

Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, impersonating an officer could alternatively or additionally be filed as a federal crime, subjecting you to an additional three years in prison.20

5.2. Additional California fraud offenses

There are also a number of California fraud offenses that...depending on the circumstances...may be charged in connection with or in lieu of Penal Code 529 PC.  Some of these include (but are not limited to):

Penal Code 484 PC theft by false pretenses

You violate Penal Code 484 PC California's law against grand theft by false pretenses when you knowingly and intentionally deceive another person into giving you money or property based primarily on your false representations.21

This crime is also a wobbler, subjecting you to a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in county jail and a maximum $1,000 fine, or a felony, punishable by up to three years in the state prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.22

Penal Code 530.5 PC identity theft

If you falsely impersonate another person in an attempt to obtain fraudulent access to that individual's finances or resources, you violate Penal Code 530.5 PC California's identity theft law.  This law is also a wobbler, subjecting you to the same penalties just referenced above.23

Identity theft and false impersonation can often take place together when an individual violates...or attempts to violate...laws such as

Penal Code 148.9 PC falsely identifying yourself to an officer

Penal Code 148.9 PC California's law against falsely identifying yourself to an officer.  Let's say that you falsely identify yourself to an officer.  If you don't commit the "additional act" required under Penal Code 529 PC, this would be the more appropriate charge.  This offense deals more with obstructing justice...529 deals more with fraud and injury.

As a result, this misdemeanor offense is less serious, subjecting you to a maximum six months in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine.24

Call us for help...

For questions about California's false impersonation laws, or to discuss your case confidentially with one of our California criminal defense attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

We have local criminal law offices in and around Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.

Additionally, our Las Vegas Nevada criminal defense attorneys are available to answer any questions about Nevada's false impersonation laws.  For more information, we invite you to contact our local attorneys at one of our Nevada law offices, located in Reno and Las Vegas.25

For information about Nevada false impersonation laws, go to our article on Nevada false impersonation laws.

Legal References:

1Our California criminal defense attorneys have local Los Angeles law offices in Beverly Hills, Burbank, Glendale, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Pomona, Torrance, Van Nuys, West Covina, and Whittier.  We have additional law offices conveniently located throughout the state in Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.

2Lee v. Superior Court (2000) 22 Cal.4th 41, 45.  ("As the Court of Appeal below observed, statutes prohibiting impersonation have two purposes. One is to prevent harm to the person falsely represented; the second is to ensure the integrity of judicial and governmental processes.")

3See same, summary.  ("Pen. Code, § 529, by referring to impersonation of "another," contemplates impersonation of a real or actual (as opposed to fictitious) person.")

See also Lee v. Superior Court (2000) 22 Cal.4th 41, summary.  ("Pen. Code, § 529, by referring to impersonation of "another," contemplates impersonation of a real or actual (as opposed to fictitious) person; it does not follow, however, that a deceased person is not a real or actual person for purposes of Pen. Code, § 529. Statutes prohibiting impersonation have two purposes: preventing harm to the person falsely represented, and ensuring the integrity of judicial and governmental processes. Both purposes are furthered by construing Pen. Code, § 529, as applying to impersonation of a deceased person as well as of a living person, and both would be frustrated by a contrary interpretation of the statute.")

4California Vehicle Code 31 VC -- False information to peace officer.  ("No person shall give, either orally or in writing, information to a peace officer while in the performance of his duties under the provisions of this code when such person knows that the information is false.")

See also California Penal Code 148.9 PC -- False representation of identity to peace officer; misdemeanor.  ("(a) Any person who falsely represents or identifies himself or herself as another person or as a fictitious person to any peace officer listed in Section 830.1 or 830.2, or subdivision (a) of Section 830.33, upon a lawful detention or arrest of the person, either to evade the process of the court, or to evade the proper identification of the person by the investigating officer is guilty of a misdemeanor. (b) Any person who falsely represents or identifies himself or herself as another person or as a fictitious person to any other peace officer defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2, upon lawful detention or arrest of the person, either to evade the process of the court, or to evade the proper identification of the person by the arresting officer is guilty of a misdemeanor if (1) the false information is given while the peace officer is engaged in the performance of his or her duties as a peace officer and (2) the person providing the false information knows or should have known that the person receiving the information is a peace officer.")

5California Penal Code 529 PC -- False impersonation.  ("Every person who falsely personates another in either his private or official capacity, and in such assumed character either: 1. Becomes bail or surety for any party in any proceeding whatever, before any court or officer authorized to take such 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; or, 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 money, or to incur any charge, forfeiture, or penalty, or whereby any benefit might accrue to the party personating, or to any other person; Is punishable by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by imprisonment in the state prison, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.")

6People v. Rathert (2000) 24 Cal.4th 200, 209.  ("...[S]ection 529, paragraph 3 [California's false impersonation law], unlike public welfare offenses, does not dispense with a mental element. One does not violate paragraph 3 merely by happening to resemble another person. Rather, one must intentionally engage in a deception that may fairly be described as noninnocent behavior, even if, in some instances, it might not stem from an evil motive.")

7People v. Stacy (2010) 183 Cal.App.4th 1229.

8People v. Rathert (2000) 24 Cal.4th 200.

91999 Report on Cyberstalking: A New Challenge for Law Enforcement and Industry. A Report from the Attorney General to the Vice President (August 1999). ("In the first successful prosecution under California's new cyberstalking law, prosecutors in the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office obtained a guilty plea from a 50-year-old former security guard who used the Internet to solicit the rape of a woman who rejected his romantic advances. The defendant terrorized his 28-year-old victim by impersonating her in various Internet chat rooms and online bulletin boards, where he posted, along with her telephone number and address, messages that she fantasized of being raped. On at least six occasions, sometimes in the middle of the night, men knocked on the woman's door saying they wanted to rape her. The former security guard pleaded guilty in April 1999 to one count of stalking and three counts of solicitation of sexual assault. He faces up to six years in prison.")

10San Bernardino County criminal defense attorney Michael Scafiddi represents clients throughout the Inland Empire, including Riverside, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Barstow, Victorville, Palm Springs and Indio.

11These examples are taken from People v. Stacy, endnote 7, above, from People v. Cole (1994) 23 Cal.App.4th 1672 and from People v. Robertson (1990) 223 Cal.App.3d 1277 (overruled on other grounds).

12Penal Code 529 PC California's false impersonation law, endnote 5, above.  ("...Does any other act whereby, if done by the person falsely personated, he might [italics added], in any event, become liable to any suit or prosecution, or to pay any sum of money, or to incur any charge, forfeiture, or penalty, or whereby any benefit might [italics added] accrue to the party personating, or to any other person;

13See same.

See also California Penal Code 18 PC -- Punishment for felony not otherwise prescribed; alternate sentence to county jail.  ("Except in cases where a different punishment is prescribed by any law of this state, every offense declared to be a felony, or to be punishable by imprisonment in a state prison, is punishable by imprisonment in any of the state prisons for 16 months, or two or three years; provided, however, every offense which is prescribed by any law of the state to be a felony punishable by imprisonment in any of the state prisons or by a fine, but without an alternate sentence to the county jail, may be punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year or by a fine, or by both.")

14California Penal Code 146a -- Impersonating an officer.  ("(a) Any person who falsely represents himself or herself to be a deputy or clerk in any state department and who, in that assumed character, does any of the following is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or both the fine and imprisonment: (1) Arrests, detains, or threatens to arrest or detain any person. (2) Otherwise intimidates any person. (3) Searches any person, building, or other property of any person. (4) Obtains money, property, or other thing of value. (b) Any person who falsely represents himself or herself to be a public officer, investigator, or inspector in any state department and who, in that assumed character, does any of the following shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or by both that fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in the state prison: (1) Arrests, detains, or threatens to arrest or detain any person. (2) Otherwise intimidates any person. (3) Searches any person, building, or other property of any person. (4) Obtains money, property, or other thing of value.")

15California Penal Code 538d PC -- Impersonating a peace officer; wearing uniform, insignia, badge, etc.; identification issued to honorably retired peace officers; vendors verifying persons purchasing uniforms.  ("(a) 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, certificate, card, or writing, of a peace officer, with the intent of fraudulently impersonating a peace officer, or of fraudulently inducing the belief that he or she is a peace officer, is guilty of a misdemeanor. (b)(1) Any person, other than the one who by law is given the authority of a peace officer, who willfully wears, exhibits, or uses the badge of a peace officer with the intent of fraudulently impersonating a peace officer, or of fraudulently inducing the belief that he or she is a peace officer, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, by a fine not to exceed two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine. (2) Any person who 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, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, by a fine not to exceed two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine. (c) Except as provided in subdivision (d), any person who willfully wears, exhibits, or uses, or who willfully makes, sells, loans, gives, or transfers to another, any badge, insignia, emblem, device, or any label, certificate, card, or writing, which 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, insignia, emblem, device, label, certificate, card, or writing of a peace officer as would deceive an 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, is guilty of a misdemeanor, except that any person who makes or sells any badge under the circumstances described in this subdivision is subject to a fine not to exceed fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000). (d)(1) The head of an agency that employs peace officers, as defined in Sections 830.1 and 830.2, is authorized to issue identification in the form of a badge, insignia, emblem, device, label, certificate, card, or writing that clearly states that the person has honorably retired following service as a peace officer from that agency. The identification authorized pursuant to this subdivision is separate and distinct from the identification authorized by subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 12027. (2) If the head of an agency issues a badge to an honorably retired peace officer that is not affixed to a plaque or other memento commemorating the retiree's service for the agency, the words "Honorably Retired" shall be clearly visible above, underneath, or on the badge itself. (3) The head of an agency that employs peace officers as defined in Sections 830.1 and 830.2 is authorized to revoke identification granted pursuant to this subdivision in the event of misuse or abuse. (4) For the purposes of this subdivision, the term "honorably retired" does not include an officer who has agreed to a service retirement in lieu of termination. (e)(1) Vendors of law enforcement uniforms shall verify that a person purchasing a uniform identifying a law enforcement agency is an employee of the agency identified on the uniform. Presentation and examination of a valid identification card with a picture of the person purchasing the uniform and identification, on the letterhead of the law enforcement agency, of the person buying the uniform as an employee of the agency identified on the uniform shall be sufficient verification. (2) Any uniform vendor who sells a uniform identifying a law enforcement agency, without verifying that the purchaser is an employee of the agency, is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000). (3) This subdivision shall not apply if the uniform is to be used solely as a prop for a motion picture, television, video production, or a theatrical event, and prior written permission has been obtained from the identified law enforcement agency.")

16California Vehicle Code 27 VC -- Impersonation of patrol member.  ("Any person who without authority impersonates, or wears the badge of, a member of the California Highway Patrol with intention to deceive anyone is guilty of a misdemeanor.")

17California Penal Code 538e -- Fraudulent impersonation of specified fire personnel; unauthorized activities with respect to badges or related matter; false representation.  ("(a) Any person, other than an officer or member of a fire department, who willfully wears, exhibits, or uses the authorized uniform, insignia, emblem, device, label, certificate, card, or writing of an officer or member of a fire department or a deputy state fire marshal, with the intent of fraudulently impersonating an officer or member of a fire department or the Office of the State Fire Marshal, or of fraudulently inducing the belief that he or she is an officer or member of a fire department or the Office of the State Fire Marshal, is guilty of a misdemeanor. (b)(1) Any person, other than the one who by law is given the authority of an officer or member of a fire department, or a deputy state fire marshal, who willfully wears, exhibits, or uses the badge of a fire department or the Office of the State Fire Marshal with the intent of fraudulently impersonating an officer, or member of a fire department, or a deputy state fire marshal, or of fraudulently inducing the belief that he or she is an officer or member of a fire department, or a deputy state fire marshal, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, by a fine not to exceed two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine. (2) Any person who 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 an officer or member of a fire department, or a deputy state fire marshal, or which so resembles the authorized badge of an officer or member of a fire department, or a deputy state fire marshal 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 an officer or member of a fire department or a deputy state fire marshal, for the purpose of fraudulently impersonating an officer or member of a fire department, or a deputy state fire marshal, or of fraudulently inducing the belief that he or she is an officer or member of a fire department, or a deputy state fire marshal, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, by a fine not to exceed two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine. (c) Any person who willfully wears, exhibits, or uses, or who willfully makes, sells, loans, gives, or transfers to another, any badge, insignia, emblem, device, or any label, certificate, card, or writing, which falsely purports to be authorized for the use of one who by law is given the authority of an officer, or member of a fire department or a deputy state fire marshal, or which so resembles the authorized badge, insignia, emblem, device, label, certificate, card, or writing of an officer or member of a fire department or a deputy state fire marshal as would deceive an ordinary reasonable person into believing that it is authorized for use by an officer or member of a fire department or a deputy state fire marshal, is guilty of a misdemeanor, except that any person who makes or sells any badge under the circumstances described in this subdivision is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000). (d) Any person who, for the purpose of selling, leasing or otherwise disposing of merchandise, supplies or equipment used in fire prevention or suppression, falsely represents, in any manner whatsoever, to any other person that he or she is a fire marshal, fire inspector or member of a fire department, or that he or she has the approval, endorsement or authorization of any fire marshal, fire inspector or fire department, or member thereof, is guilty of a misdemeanor. (e)(1) Vendors of uniforms shall verify that a person purchasing a uniform identifying a firefighting agency or department is an employee or authorized member of the agency or department identified on the uniform. Examination of a valid photo identification card issued by a firefighting agency or department that designates the person as an employee or authorized member of the agency or department identified on the uniform shall be sufficient verification. (2) If a person purchasing a uniform does not have a valid photo identification card issued by a firefighting agency or department, the person shall present an official letter of authorization from the firefighting agency or department designating that person as an employee or authorized member of the agency or department. The person shall also present a government issued photo identification card bearing the same name as listed in the letter of authorization issued by the agency or department. (3) Any uniform vendor who sells a uniform identifying a firefighting agency or department without verifying that the purchaser is an employee or authorized member of the agency or department is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000). (4) This subdivision shall not apply if the uniform is to be used solely as a prop for a motion picture, television, video production, or a theatrical event, and prior written permission has been obtained from the identified firefighting agency or department. (f) This section shall not apply to either of the following: (1) Use of a badge solely as a prop for a motion picture, television, or video production, or an entertainment or theatrical event. (2) A badge supplied by a recognized employee organization as defined in Section 3501 of the Government Code representing firefighters or a state or international organization to which it is affiliated.")

18California Penal Code 530 PC - Falsely impersonating another person and receiving money or property.  ("Every person who falsely personates another, in either his private or official capacity, and in such assumed character receives any money or property, knowing that it is intended to be delivered to the individual so personated, with intent to convert the same to his own use, or to that of another person, or to deprive the true owner thereof, is punishable in the same manner and to the same extent as for larceny of the money or property so received.")

19California Penal Code 528 PC -- Marriage under false personation.  ("Every person who falsely personates another, and in such assumed character marries or pretends to marry, or to sustain the marriage relation towards another, with or without the connivance of such other, is guilty of a felony.")

2018 U.S.C.A. Section 912 -- Officer or employee of the United States.  ("Whoever falsely assumes or pretends to be an officer or employee acting under the authority of the United States or any department, agency or officer thereof, and acts as such, or in such pretended character demands or obtains any money, paper, document, or thing of value, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.")

21California Penal Code 484 PC -- Theft defined.  ("(a) Every person who shall feloniously steal, take, carry, lead, or drive away the personal property of another, or who shall fraudulently appropriate property which has been entrusted to him or her, or who shall knowingly and designedly, by any false or fraudulent representation or pretense, defraud any other person of money, labor or real or personal property, or who causes or procures others to report falsely of his or her wealth or mercantile character and by thus imposing upon any person, obtains credit and thereby fraudulently gets or obtains possession of money, or property or obtains the labor or service of another, is guilty of theft. In determining the value of the property obtained, for the purposes of this section, the reasonable and fair market value shall be the test, and in determining the value of services received the contract price shall be the test. If there be no contract price, the reasonable and going wage for the service rendered shall govern. For the purposes of this section, any false or fraudulent representation or pretense made shall be treated as continuing, so as to cover any money, property or service received as a result thereof, and the complaint, information or indictment may charge that the crime was committed on any date during the particular period in question. The hiring of any additional employee or employees without advising each of them of every labor claim due and unpaid and every judgment that the employer has been unable to meet shall be prima facie evidence of intent to defraud. (b)(1) Except as provided in Section 10855 of the Vehicle Code, where a person has leased or rented the personal property of another person pursuant to a written contract, and that property has a value greater than one thousand dollars ($1,000) and is not a commonly used household item, intent to commit theft by fraud shall be rebuttably presumed if the person fails to return the personal property to its owner within 10 days after the owner has made written demand by certified or registered mail following the expiration of the lease or rental agreement for return of the property so leased or rented. (2) Except as provided in Section 10855 of the Vehicle Code, where a person has leased or rented the personal property of another person pursuant to a written contract, and where the property has a value no greater than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or where the property is a commonly used household item, intent to commit theft by fraud shall be rebuttably presumed if the person fails to return the personal property to its owner within 20 days after the owner has made written demand by certified or registered mail following the expiration of the lease or rental agreement for return of the property so leased or rented. (c) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (b), if one presents with criminal intent identification which bears a false or fictitious name or address for the purpose of obtaining the lease or rental of the personal property of another, the presumption created herein shall apply upon the failure of the lessee to return the rental property at the expiration of the lease or rental agreement, and no written demand for the return of the leased or rented property shall be required. (d) The presumptions created by subdivisions (b) and (c) are presumptions affecting the burden of producing evidence. (e) Within 30 days after the lease or rental agreement has expired, the owner shall make written demand for return of the property so leased or rented. Notice addressed and mailed to the lessee or renter at the address given at the time of the making of the lease or rental agreement and to any other known address shall constitute proper demand. Where the owner fails to make such written demand the presumption created by subdivision (b) shall not apply.")

22California Penal Code 487 -- Grand theft defined.  ("Grand theft is theft committed in any of the following cases: (a) When the money, labor, or real or personal property taken is of a value exceeding nine hundred and fifty dollars ($950) except as provided in subdivision (b). (b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), grand theft is committed in any of the following cases: (1)(A) When domestic fowls, avocados, olives, citrus or deciduous fruits, other fruits, vegetables, nuts, artichokes, or other farm crops are taken of a value exceeding two hundred fifty dollars ($250). (B) For the purposes of establishing that the value of avocados or citrus fruit under this paragraph exceeds two hundred fifty dollars ($250), that value may be shown by the presentation of credible evidence which establishes that on the day of the theft avocados or citrus fruit of the same variety and weight exceeded two hundred fifty dollars ($250) in wholesale value. (2) When fish, shellfish, mollusks, crustaceans, kelp, algae, or other aquacultural products are taken from a commercial or research operation which is producing that product, of a value exceeding two hundred fifty dollars ($250). (3) Where the money, labor, or real or personal property is taken by a servant, agent, or employee from his or her principal or employer and aggregates nine hundred fifty dollars ($950) or more in any 12 consecutive month period. (c) When the property is taken from the person of another. (d) When the property taken is any of the following: (1) An automobile, horse, mare, gelding, any bovine animal, any caprine animal, mule, jack, jenny, sheep, lamb, hog, sow, boar, gilt, barrow, or pig. (2) A firearm. (e) This section shall become operative on January 1, 1997.")

23California Penal Code 530.5 -- Identity theft.  ("(a) Every person who willfully obtains personal identifying information, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 530.55, of another person, and uses that information for any unlawful purpose, including to obtain, or attempt to obtain, credit, goods, services, real property, or medical information without the consent of that person, is guilty of a public offense, and upon conviction therefor, shall be punished by a fine, by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by both a fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in the state prison. (b) In any case in which a person willfully obtains personal identifying information of another person, uses that information to commit a crime in addition to a violation of subdivision (a) [such as Penal Code 529 PC California's false impersonation law], and is convicted of that crime, the court records shall reflect that the person whose identity was falsely used to commit the crime did not commit the crime. (c)(1) Every person who, with the intent to defraud, acquires or retains possession of the personal identifying information, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 530.55, of another person is guilty of a public offense, and upon conviction therefor, shall be punished by a fine, by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by both a fine and imprisonment. (2) Every person who, with the intent to defraud, acquires or retains possession of the personal identifying information, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 530.55, of another person, and who has previously been convicted of a violation of this section, upon conviction therefor shall be punished by a fine, by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by both a fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in the state prison. (3) Every person who, with the intent to defraud, acquires or retains possession of the personal identifying information, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 530.55, of 10 or more other persons is guilty of a public offense, and upon conviction therefor, shall be punished by a fine, by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by both a fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in the state prison. (d)(1) Every person who, with the intent to defraud, sells, transfers, or conveys the personal identifying information, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 530.55, of another person is guilty of a public offense, and upon conviction therefor, shall be punished by a fine, by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by both a fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in the state prison. (2) Every person who, with actual knowledge that the personal identifying information, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 530.55, of a specific person will be used to commit a violation of subdivision (a), sells, transfers, or conveys that same personal identifying information is guilty of a public offense, and upon conviction therefor, shall be punished by a fine, by imprisonment in the state prison, or by both a fine and imprisonment. (e) Every person who commits mail theft, as defined in Section 1708 of Title 18 of the United States Code, is guilty of a public offense, and upon conviction therefor shall be punished by a fine, by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by both a fine and imprisonment. Prosecution under this subdivision shall not limit or preclude prosecution under any other provision of law, including, but not limited to, subdivisions (a) to (c), inclusive, of this section. (f) An interactive computer service or access software provider, as defined in subsection (f) of Section 230 of Title 47 of the United States Code, shall not be liable under this section unless the service or provider acquires, transfers, sells, conveys, or retains possession of personal information with the intent to defraud.")

24California Penal Code 148.9 PC -- False representation of identity to peace officer; misdemeanor.  ("(a) Any person who falsely represents or identifies himself or herself as another person or as a fictitious person to any peace officer listed in Section 830.1 or 830.2, or subdivision (a) of Section 830.33, upon a lawful detention or arrest of the person, either to evade the process of the court, or to evade the proper identification of the person by the investigating officer is guilty of a misdemeanor. (b) Any person who falsely represents or identifies himself or herself as another person or as a fictitious person to any other peace officer defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2, upon lawful detention or arrest of the person, either to evade the process of the court, or to evade the proper identification of the person by the arresting officer is guilty of a misdemeanor if (1) the false information is given while the peace officer is engaged in the performance of his or her duties as a peace officer and (2) the person providing the false information knows or should have known that the person receiving the information is a peace officer.")

See also California Penal Code 19 PC -- Punishment for misdemeanor; punishment not otherwise prescribed.  ("Except in cases where a different punishment is prescribed by any law of this state, every offense declared to be a misdemeanor is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both.")

25Please feel free to contact our Nevada criminal defense attorneys Michael Becker and Mike Castillo for any questions relating to Nevada's fraud or theft laws. Our Nevada law offices are located in Reno and Las Vegas.

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