Impresonating a Police Officer
Impersonation of a law enforcement officer is illegal. Despite this, some people decide to undertake this criminal offense to try to gain advantages. Similar laws cover posing as any kind of state or federal official. This can include impersonating a uniformed or a plain-clothed official of authority. Occasionally, people will try to impersonate officers or other officials to interfere with divorce cases or to get revenge on their ex-partner. It’s rare, but it does happen.
Two cases in recent news involved individuals facing charges for the impersonation of a law enforcement officer. In one case, a Seminole County man was sentenced to 10 years of probation for impersonating a DEA official. He was accused of forgery, extortion, and impersonating a police officer as part of a plan to get revenge on his estranged wife.
In another case, a man accused of impersonating a police officer and trying to intimidate a prostitute into unprotected sex was sentenced to nine months of probation. In the commission of his crime, the perpetrator drove the woman to a Broward County Sheriff’s Office headquarters and pretended to place a phone call that made an arrest seem imminent. In order to avoid arrest, the woman was to have unprotected sex with the man.
The woman grew skeptical and dialed 911, causing the man to leave the scene. Once caught, he admitted to having attempted the ruse numerous times and claimed to have been successful three times. He received 270 days in jail with 2 years of probation and is required to get a psychosexual evaluation.
In the state of Florida, posing as a law enforcement official is specifically covered under state statute chapter 843. In the statute, it defines as follows: “Anyone who falsely assumes or pretends to be a: firefighter, sheriff, officer of the Florida highway patrol, other state enforcement officials, federal law enforcement official, commits a felony in the third degree. Impersonating any such officer during the commission of a felony commits a felony in the second degree. If, in the commission of the felony results in the death or injury of another human being, the person commits a felony in the first degree.”
The penalties for impersonating a law enforcement official can result in varying penalties. At the lowest level, the penalties are:
- Up to 5 years in prison
- Up to 5 years probation
- Up to $5,000 in fines
If the impersonation of a police officer is committed during the commission of a felony, the penalties are more severe:
- Up to 15 years in prison
- Up to 15 years probation
- Up to $10,000 in fines
If the impersonation of a law enforcement official is committed and leads to the death or injury of another human being, the penalties escalate. A judge is required to impose a minimum sentence of 51 months (4 ¼ years). The judge can also impose any combination of the following penalties:
- Up to 30 years in prison
- Up to 30 years probation
- Up to $10,000 in fines
While it is highly unlikely you will be accosted by an ex posing as a police officer, there are things you can do to confirm that an officer is legitimate. Ask the officer for their name and for identification. Try to get the badge number off of their badge. If they are driving a police vehicle, get the plate number. Then, call the police to confirm the information. And if you are placed in an emergency situation or asked to do something illegal by a police officer, call 911 immediately.