"Impersonating a Peace Officer" - Colorado Law CRS 18-8-112

CRS § 18-8-112 is the Colorado code section that defines the offense of impersonating a peace officer. 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.

Definition of "Peace Officer"

A peace officer is defined as either:

  • a policeman or policewoman in uniform; or, if out of uniform,
  • one who has identified him or herself by exhibiting his or her credentials as a peace officer.

The Act of Impersonation

Any time a person pretends to act as a peace officer and acts in that fake role, that person may be charged under Colorado law. Common acts of impersonation include but are not limited to:

  • dressing as a policeman or policewoman (along with some other act);
  • presenting fake police credentials, such as a police badge;
  • pulling over a driver with red and blue lights;
  • directing traffic while indicating him or herself as a peace officer;
  • making an arrest; or
  • verbally indicating to others that the person is a police officer.

These acts are considered a serious crime in the State of Colorado.

Penalties

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.

Possible Defenses

A person charged with impersonation can raise a number of different defenses, including:

  • the person was not impersonating an officer;
  • the person did not represent to others that he or she was a policeman or policewoman; or
  • no official acts were engaged in by the person accused of the crime.

Related Offenses

Certain Colorado offenses are very closely related to the offense of disarming a peace officer:

Below, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following frequently asked questions about the offense of disarming a peace officer for Colorado residents:

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CRS § 18-8-112 is the Colorado code section that defines the offense of impersonating a peace officer.

1. What is impersonating a peace officer in Colorado?

CRS § 18-8-112 is the Colorado code section that defines the offense of impersonating a peace officer. 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. 1

1.1 What is the definition of a "peace officer?"

A peace officer is defined as either:

  • a policeman or policewoman in uniform; or, if out of uniform,
  • one who has identified him or herself by exhibiting his or her credentials as a peace officer. 2

A peace officer who is out of uniform can count as a peace officer for the purposes of this offense if he or she properly identifies him or herself as such. Alternatively, this means that even if the alleged offender did not wear a police uniform, sufficient statements or acts that would lead another person to believe the lie may be enough to charge the person of the offense.

2. What is impersonation?

Impersonation means to:

  • act like;
  • pretend to be;
  • represent that he or she is; or
  • create the belief in another

that the person is a peace officer when he or she is not. Impersonation can come in a variety of forms, but must meet certain legal requirements to justify criminal charges.

2.1 Does this mean I can never dress as a policeman, even for Halloween?

A Colorado resident could still dress up as a policeman or policewoman for fun, like during Halloween. In fact, simply dressing as a peace officer is not a crime.

For a person's conduct to rise to the level of impersonation, it must be accompanied by some other act that a police officer would do in his or her official capacity.

Example: Kevin dresses up as a policeman for Halloween. All he does is attend the party and never tries to trick anyone into thinking he is a policeman. He cannot be convicted of impersonating an officer at this point. However, after a few drinks he thinks it would be funny to arrest someone for "jaywalking" across the street. By being dressed as and committing an act that is a typical police officer function, he can be charged with impersonating a peace officer.

2.2 What types of acts constitute impersonation?

Any time a person pretends to act as a peace officer and acts in that fake role, that person may be charged under Colorado law. Common acts of impersonation include but are not limited to:

  • dressing as a police officer (along with some other act);
  • presenting fake police credentials, such as a police badge;
  • pulling over a driver with red and blue lights;
  • directing traffic while indicating him or herself as a peace officer;
  • making an arrest; and
  • verbally indicating to others that the person is a police officer.

This is not a full list. Many other acts may qualify as "impersonation" depending on the facts of the case.

3. What are the penalties for impersonating a peace officer?

Impersonating a peace officer is a Class 6 felony in the State of Colorado. 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.3

3.1 Risk of Multiple Charges

In many cases where impersonating a peace officer is charged, it is charged alongside other alleged criminal conduct. Crimes which commonly occur along with an impersonating charge include:

Depending on the facts of the case, the penalties for these offenses and an impersonating charge can be run one right after the other, significantly increasing the time spent in jail.

4. What defenses can I raise in my case?

A person charged with impersonation can raise a number of different defenses, including:

  • the person was not impersonating an officer;
  • the person did not represent to others that he or she was a policeman or policewoman; or
  • no official acts were engaged in by the person accused of the crime.

In many cases prosecutors overcharge and add an impersonating charge in order to increase the possible charges. They use this as a negotiating tool for a plea deal.

5. Related Offenses

Certain Colorado offenses are very closely related to the offense of disarming a peace officer. These include obstructing a peace officer and disarming a peace officer.

Obstructing a Peace Officer (CRS 18-8-104) occurs when a person uses or threatens to use force to obstruct, impair, or hinder:

  • a police officer,
  • firefighter,
  • emergency medical services provider,
  • rescue specialist, or
  • volunteer. 4

Disarming a Peace Officer (CRS 18-8-116) occurs when a person knowingly removes:

  • a firearm,
  • stun gun,
  • or other similar device of a peace officer while under color of their official authority. 5
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Call us for help...

For questions about the offense of impersonating a peace officer or to confidentially discuss your case with one of our skilled Colorado criminal defense attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us.

For cases in California or Nevada, please visit our pages on Penal Code 538d - impersonating a police officer in California and NRS 199.430 - impersonating a public officer in Nevada.

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


Legal References:

  1. CRS § 18-8-112.
  2. CRS § 18-8-116(3).
  3. CRS § 18-1.3-201(1)(A.1). (Penalty ranges for Class 6 felonies).
  4. CRS § 18-8-104. Obstructing a Peace Officer.
  5. CRS § 18-8-116. Disarming a Peace Officer.

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