ARS 13-2006 is the Arizona statute that defines the crime of criminal impersonation. People commit this offense when they assume a false identity with the intent to defraud or trick someone. A violation of this law is a Class 6 felony punishable by up to two years in state prison.
The language of ARS-2006 states: “A person commits criminal impersonation by:
- Assuming a false identity with the intent to defraud another; or
- Pretending to be a representative of some person or organization with the intent to defraud; or
- Pretending to be, or assuming a false identity of, an employee or a representative of some person or organization with the intent to induce another person to provide or allow access to property.”
- using someone else’s social security number for employment reasons.
- putting another person’s credit card number in a written instrument to secure an advancement of money.
- giving a police officer a friend’s name and contact information in order to avoid a ticket.
Criminal defense lawyers draw upon several legal strategies to help clients contest criminal impersonation charges. A few common ones include showing that:
- the accused did not act with an intent to defraud someone,
- the defendant was falsely accused, and/or
- law enforcement violated one of the defendant’s constitutional rights.
- custody in state prison for up to two years, and/or
- a maximum fine of $150,000.
In this article, our Phoenix Arizona criminal defense attorneys will discuss what the law is under this statute, defenses available if charged, the penalties for a conviction, and related crimes.
1. How does Arizona law define criminal impersonation?
Under Arizona law, people are guilty of criminal impersonation if they:
- assume the identity of another person or entity with the intent to defraud someone,
- pretend to be a representative of some person or organization with the intent to defraud, or
- pretend to be an employee or a representative of a person or organization to persuade someone to allow access to property.i
Acting with an “intent to defraud” means acting with the purpose of deceiving or tricking another person.
Note that some states divide the crime of impersonation into different degrees, like first degree, second degree, and third degree. However, this is not the case under Arizona law.
Note, too, that criminal impersonation is a separate offense from identity theft. That crime is set forth in ARS 13-2008 and involves a person using someone else’s identifying information for some unlawful purpose.
2. Are there defenses to ARS 13-2006
People facing criminal charges under this statute have the right to challenge them with a legal defense. Three common defenses include accused people showing that:
- they did not try to defraud someone.
- they were falsely accused.
- a peace officer or law enforcement officer violated their constitutional rights.
2.1 No intent to defraud
Recall that people are only guilty under this criminal law if they act with an intent to defraud or trick someone. It is always a defense, then, for a defendant to show that he/she did not act with this aim. Perhaps, for example, someone assumed a false identity to pull a prank on a person.
2.2 Falsely accused
Sometimes people will blame someone else for using a false identity to cover up their own wrongdoings. In these events, a defendant can avoid guilt by trying to show that he/she was unjustly blamed.
2.3 Violation of a constitutional right
Defendants can try to challenge a criminal impersonation charge by showing that the police or a law enforcement agent violated one of their constitutional rights. For example, maybe the police:
- conducted an unlawful search or seizure,
- stopped or arrested the defendant without probable cause, or
- coerced a confession.
If there is reasonable doubt that an officer protected an accused’s rights, then the defendant can try to:
- get certain evidence excluded from his/her case, or
- get the case dropped in its entirety.
3. What are the penalties?
A criminal offense pursuant to ARS 13-2006 is a Class 6 felony.ii The crime is punishable by:
- a state prison term of up to two years, and/or
- a maximum fine of $150,000.
If the crime gets classified as a dangerous offense, then a person can receive a prison term of up to three years.
4. Are there related offenses?
There are three crimes related to criminal impersonation. These are:
- perjury – ARS 13-2702,
- forgery – ARS 13-2002, and/or
- impersonating a peace officer – ARS 13-2411.
4.1 Perjury – ARS 13-2702
Under ARS 13-2702, perjury is the crime where people:
- make either a false sworn statement or a false unsworn declaration regarding a material issue, and
- do so while believing that the statement/declaration is false.
Unlike with criminal impersonation, acting with an intent to defraud is not an element in proving perjury.
4.2 Forgery – ARS 13-2002
Per ARS 13-2002, forgery is the crime where people, with the intent to defraud, either:
- falsely make or complete a written instrument,
- possess a forged instrument, or
- offer/present a forged instrument.
Forgery is considered a more severe offense in Arizona than criminal impersonation. Forgery is charged as a Class 4 felony that is punishable by a prison term of three years and nine months.
4.3 Impersonating a peace officer – ARS 13-2411
Per ARS 13-2411, impersonating a peace officer is the crime where people:
- pretend to be a peace officer, and
- engage in any conduct with the intent to induce another to submit to their pretended authority or to rely on their pretended acts.
In most cases, a violation of ARS 13-2411 is a Class 6 felony. The crime is punishable in the same manner as with criminal impersonation.
For additional help…
For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense lawyer, we invite you to contact our law firm at the Shouse Law Group. Our attorneys provide both free consultations and legal advice you can trust.
- Arizona Revised Statutes 13-2006A.
- ARS 13-2006B.