Penal Code 148.9 PC - False Identification to a Police Officer


Penal Code 148.9 PC
is the California statute that makes it crime for a person knowingly to provide false identification to a police officer. This statute says:

“Any person who falsely represents or identifies himself or herself as another person or as a fictitious person to any peace officer…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.”

Examples of illegal acts under this code section include:

Defenses

Luckily, there are several legal defenses that a person can raise if accused of a crime under PC 148.9. These include showing that the defendant:

Penalties

A violation of Penal Code 148.9 is charged as a misdemeanor in California (as opposed to a felony or an infraction).

The crime is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in county jail for up to six months, and/or
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.

Please note that in lieu of jail time, a judge may award a defendant with misdemeanor (or summary probation).

Also note that, if a person is convicted of an offense under PC 148.9, this conviction will generally not have:

A person convicted of this offense can also seek to have it expunged once he successfully completes:

  • probation (if imposed), or
  • any jail time (if imposed).

Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

false testimony to police

1. What is prohibited under California Penal Code 148.9 PC?

Penal Code 148.9 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to knowingly provide false identification to a police officer.1

A prosecutor must prove three things to successfully convict a defendant of this crime. These are:

  1. the accused knowingly provided a fake name, or the name of another person to a police officer,
  2. he provided this name after being lawfully detained or arrested, and
  3. the defendant gave the fake or false name to avoid the court process or to avoid proper identification.2

As to the second element above, there must be a detention or an arrest for PC 148.9 to apply. This means that it is not a crime for a party to provide false identification during a consensual encounter with a police officer.3

Note that “false identification” includes giving police a false birthdate.4

2. Are there legal defenses to accusations of violating PC 148.9?

If a person is accused of a crime under this statute, then he can challenge the accusation by raising a legal defense. A good defense can often get a charge reduced or even dismissed.

Three common defenses to PC 148.9 accusations are:

  1. no detention or arrest,
  2. falsely accused, and/or
  3. unlawful search and seizure.

2.1. No detention or arrest

Recall that an accused is only guilty under this code section if he falsely identifies himself after lawful detention or arrest. This means it is always a solid legal defense for a defendant to show that, while he provided a fake or false name to the police, he did so prior to being detained or arrested. Perhaps, for example, the accused was engaged in a consensual conversation with an officer when he gave a fake name.

2.2. Falsely accused

Unfortunately, it is not at all uncommon for people to get prosecuted based on false allegations. People get falsely accused out of

  • jealousy,
  • revenge, and
  • anger.

Thus, it is a valid defense for a defendant to say that a party falsely accused him of violating Penal Code 148.9.

2.3. Unlawful search and seizure

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution declares that we have the right to be free from unreasonable “searches and seizures” by law enforcement. If authorities obtain evidence from an unreasonable, or unlawful search and seizure, then that evidence can get excluded from a criminal case. This means that any charges in the case could get reduced or even dismissed.

man behind bars
A violation of this law can result in a fine and or jail time

3. What are the penalties for violating Penal Code 148.9?

A violation of this statute is charged as a misdemeanor in California.5

The crime is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in county jail for up to six months, and/or
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.6

Please note that in lieu of jail time, a judge may award a defendant with misdemeanor (or summary probation).

4. Are there immigration consequences if a person falsely identifies himself to police?

A PC 148.9 conviction generally has no negative immigration consequences.

Note that under United States immigration law, certain kinds of criminal convictions in California can lead to a non-citizen being deported. Some convictions can also make an immigrant "inadmissible.”

A conviction for false identification to police, on its own, will not lead to deportation or to an inadmissibility status.

Further, with regard to immigration consequences, a crime of false identification is not a crime of moral turpitude.7

5. Can a person get an expungement after a Penal Code 148.9 conviction?

A person convicted under PC 148.9 can try to get the offense expunged.

Under Penal Code 1203.4, an expungement releases an individual from virtually "all penalties and disabilities" arising out of the conviction.8

One particular benefit is that an expunged conviction does not need to be disclosed to potential employers.

As a basic rule, PC 1203.4 authorizes an expungement for a misdemeanor or felony offense provided the applicant:

  1. successfully completed probation (either felony probation or misdemeanor probation), and
  2. is not currently:
  • charged with a criminal offense,
  • on probation for a criminal offense, or
  • serving a sentence for a criminal offense.9

This means that once a defendant has successfully completed probation for violating PC 148.9, or serving a jail term for the same, he may begin trying to get the crime expunged.

6. Does a false identification conviction affect a person's gun rights?

A conviction under Penal Code 148.9 does not have an effect on the convicted party's gun rights.

Note that some felony and misdemeanor convictions will result in the defendant losing his rights to own a gun in California.

Also note that some misdemeanors carry a 10-year firearm ban.

But a conviction involving false identification will not result in a person losing ownership of his gun or being banned from the gun for a period of time.

7. Are there crimes related to false identification?

There are three crimes related to false identification to a police officer. These are:

  1. false impersonation – PC 529,
  2. resisting arrest – PC 148, and
  3. false statements/information to a police officer – VC 31.

7.1. False impersonation – PC 529

Penal Code 529 PC is the California statute that defines the crime of “false impersonation” (also called “false personation”).

This section makes it a crime to:

  1. "personate" someone falsely (that is, pretend to be them) in their public or private capacity, and
  2. perform any other act that might cause the person being impersonated to become liable to a lawsuit or prosecution or become obligated to pay money.10

False personation is what is known as a “wobbler” in California law. This means that it may be charged as either a California misdemeanor or a felony.11

If charged as a misdemeanor, the crime is punishable by up to one year in county jail.12

If charged as a felony, the offense is punishable by up to three years in county jail.13

7.2. Resisting arrest – PC 148

Penal Code 148 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to willfully resist or obstruct a police officer, or EMT, in the performance of his official duties.14

Many are aware that resisting arrest includes a person trying to obstruct the police in lawfully taking him into custody. But the crime also includes a wide range of other activity, like a person:

  • interfering with a police officer's travel to the scene of a crime or accident,
  • obstructing the authorities from interviewing a witness of a crime, and
  • trying to interfere with police while they are monitoring a suspect in custody.

A violation of this statute is charged as a misdemeanor in California.15

The crime is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in county jail for up to one year, and/or
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.16

7.3. False statements/information to a police officer – VC 31

Vehicle Code 31 VC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to give false information to a police officer.17

“False information” may include:

A violation of VC 31 is charged as a misdemeanor in California. The offense is punishable by:

  • up to six months in county jail, and/or
  • a fine of up to $1,000.18

Were you accused of false identification in California? Call us for help…

california attorneys
Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime under Penal Code 148.9 PC, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We can be reached 24/7 at 855-LawFirm.

For similar accusations in Nevada, please see our article on: “NRS 205.463 - Using another person's identifying information, explained by Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys.”


Legal References:

  1. California Penal Code 148.9 PC. This code section states: “Any person who falsely represents or identifies himself or herself as another person or as a fictitious person to any peace officer…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.”

  2. See same.

  3. In re Voeurn O. (1995), 35 Cal. App. 4th 793. See also People v. Riley (2018), Cal. App. Unpub. Lexis 693.

  4. People v. Ivan J. (2001), 88 Cal. App. 4th 27.

  5. California Penal Code 148.9 PC.

  6. California Penal Code 19 PC.

  7. Blanco v. Mukasey (2008), 518 F.3d 714.

  8. California Penal Code 1203.4 PC.

  9. See same.

  10. California Jury Instructions – Criminal (“CALJIC”) 15.58 – False Personation.

  11. California Penal Code 529 PC.

  12. See same.

  13. See same.

  14. California Penal Code 148 PC.

  15. See same.

  16. See same.

  17. California Vehicle Code 31 VC.

  18. California Vehicle Code 40000.5 VC.

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