CRS 18-5-113 - Criminal Impersonation in Colorado

CRS 18-5-113 is the Colorado code section that defines the offense of criminal impersonation. A person commits this offense if he or she unlawfully pretends to be someone else in order to gain some benefit. The crime is also commonly referred to as false personation or false impersonation.

Specifically, the statute provides that it is criminal impersonation to:

  • marry or pretend to marry another person (when that person is unaware of the falseness);
  • post bail or surety for a person in a court action, civil or criminal;
  • sign a legal document which by law may be recorded, with the intent to pass off the document as true;
  • perform an act that if done by the person who is impersonated, would subject that person to legal or financial penalty; or
  • perform any act with intent to unlawfully gain a benefit for him or herself, or another, or to injure or defraud another person.

Penalties

If a person is convicted of the offense of criminal impersonation, he or she is guilty of a Class 6 felony. He or she faces the following criminal penalties:

  • 1 year to 18 months in prison;
  • mandatory 1 year of parole.

As a felon, the convicted person will have difficulty:

  • passing a background check;
  • applying for certain licenses;
  • finding and maintaining employment;
  • obtaining a loan through a bank or other lender; and
  • facing assumptions about your trustworthiness and character.

Defenses to the Charge

A person can defend him or herself against this charge by:

  • proving that no impersonation ever occurred;
  • showing that none of the underlying actions ever occurred;
  • proving that the impersonation was not criminal (no intent to defraud).

Related Crime

The related crime of impersonating a peace officer also exists in Colorado. A person commits this offense if he or she:

  • falsely pretends to be a policeman or policewoman; and
  • performs an act while pretending that role.

Impersonating a peace officer is a Class 6 felony in this state. Penalties for the offense include:

  • twelve to 18 months in jail;
  • a fine of $1,000 up to a maximum of $100,000; and
  • mandatory parole period of one year.

Below, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following frequently asked questions about criminal impersonation for Colorado residents:

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CRS 18-5-113 is the Colorado code section that defines the offense of criminal impersonation.

1. What does this offense look like in the real world?

There is a lot of legal language in the code section, that may make this charge a little unclear. A few examples of this crime include:

Example: Sam posts bail with the local court to get his friend out of jail after the friend's assault arrest. However, to do that, he poses as his brother, using his ID and credit card to do it. Sam has committed the offense of criminal impersonation, and will face Class 6 felony penalties if he does not defend his case.

Example: Carolyn poses as a former friend she dislikes, but looks very similar to. She enters a jewelry store, using her former friend's ID to get a line of credit to purchase an expensive bracelet. She gives the store all of her former friend's information and places the debt on her.

Example: John is engaged to marry Fiona, and tells her he went to the court to get a marriage license. He never gets the license because he is already married to another person. He goes through with the wedding ceremony, but lies when he says the marriage certificate is filed and they are both legally married.

2. What are the penalties if I am convicted?

If a person is convicted of the offense of criminal impersonation, he or she is guilty of a Class 6 felony. He or she faces the following criminal penalties:

  • 1 year to 18 months in prison;
  • a fine of $1,000 up to a maximum of $100,000; and
  • mandatory 1 year of parole. 2

2.1. What other issues will I face if I am convicted of criminal impersonation?

As a felon, the convicted person will have difficulty:

  • passing a background check;
  • applying for certain licenses;
  • finding and maintaining employment;
  • obtaining a loan through a bank or other lender; and
  • facing assumptions about your trustworthiness and character.

While these are not criminal penalties, they can have as much or more an impact on your life as any prison sentence. If you plead guilty to this offense without legal representation, you could face criminal penalties you would not otherwise have to.

3. What defenses can I raise to this charge?

A person can defend him or herself against this charge in a number of ways with the help of experienced legal help.

3.1. Proving That No Impersonation Ever Occurred

To be convicted of criminal impersonation, an impersonation must occur. It seems obvious, but too often the conduct police and prosecutors call impersonation does not fit the definition, or in the case of marriage, is done with the knowledge of the other party.

Each of these facts is important, and could lead to a successful defense of your criminal charges.

3.2. No Underlying Crimes Occurred

To prove that a person has committed this offense, impersonation alone is not enough. Another one of the listed acts must also occur, and it must also be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If one of those acts did not occur, or it cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the offense of criminal impersonation did not occur.

3.3. Impersonation Was Not Criminal

If the impersonation did occur, but there was no intent to defraud, then no crime has occurred. The person accused of the crime must have committed the act in order to gain some benefit to him or herself.

Example: Clark dresses as his friend Andy, who he looks very similar to, to play a friendly prank on one of their mutual teachers. It is simply as a joke, and Clark never takes a test or gains any benefit from the impersonation. Clark cannot be charged criminally, as he never had an intent to defraud.

4. Is there a related offense to criminal impersonation?

The related crime of impersonating a peace officer also exists in Colorado. A person commits this offense if he or she:

  • falsely pretends to be a policeman or policewoman, and
  • performs an act while pretending that role.3

Impersonating a peace officer is a Class 6 felony in this state. Penalties for the offense include:

  • twelve to 18 months in jail;
  • a fine of $1,000 up to a maximum of $100,000; and
  • mandatory parole period of one year.
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Call us for help...

For questions about criminal impersonation or to confidentially discuss your case with one of our skilled Colorado criminal defense attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us.

We represent clients in and around Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, and several nearby cities.


Legal References:

  1. CRS 18-5-113 (Criminal Impersonation).
  2. CRS 18-1.3-401 (Felonies classified--presumptive penalties).
  3. CRS 18-8-112 (Impersonating a Peace Officer).

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