Some people do not realize that providing false information to a peace officer is a crime in California – punishable by a 6-month jail sentence and a fine of up to $1000, including penalty assessment. A peace officer is a civil officer chosen by the state to maintain law and order. They can be a California highway patrol officer, an investigator employed by the District Attorney’s Office, or the Sheriff and their deputy.
Under California law, you don’t have to identify yourself unless it’s during a lawful detention or arrest. If you or your loved one gets injured due to an altercation during an arrest with the police, contact a qualified personal injury attorney to help you with your compensation claim to cater for any injury inflicted – physical or emotional.
Is Providing False Identification to a Police Officer in California a Crime?
Under Penal Code §148.9, it’s a crime to falsely identify yourself – using a false name, another person’s name, or a false identification document, including a false birth certificate, once lawfully detained. For one to be detained, a prosecutor must successfully prove three of the following things:
- The accused consciously presented a false name or another person’s name to an officer
- The accused tried using false identification to escape the court process
- False information was provided after lawful detainment or arrest
For the rules to apply, one must be arrested or detained. Presenting false information during a consensual encounter with a police officer is not a crime.
What Are the Penalties for Providing False Identification to an Officer?
A breach of PC §148.9 is charged as a misdemeanor in the state of California and is punishable by:
- County jail imprisonment for up to six months
- A maximum fine of $1000
Notably, in place of jail, the judge can award the accused with summary probation. Summary probation is an alternative to a jail term for misdemeanor cases where the accused is directly supervised by the court rather than reporting to a probation officer.
Possible Defenses to Penal Code §148.9
If one is accused of presenting false information under the PC §148.9 statute, they can challenge the accusation by pushing up a legal defense. A good defense team can have the charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed, and you may get compensated. The common defenses to PC §148.9 accusations include:
No Arrests or Detention
An accused is guilty of the crime under the code section if they present false information about themselves after a lawful arrest or detention. Therefore, a defendant can claim to have provided the wrong information before the arrest.
Unlawful Seizure or Search
The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution declares that every US citizen has the right to be free from nonconsensual or unreasonable search and seizure of personal property by any law enforcer. If an officer obtains evidence by unlawful seizures or search, the evidence will be excluded from the case – meaning any charges on the case can be dismissed or reduced.
A misunderstanding with an officer can lead to prosecution based on false accusations. Unfortunately, the trend is common. You can also get prosecuted out of jealousy, revenge, or anger.
Can a Person Get an Expunction After a Conviction?
Expunction or expungement is a court-ordered process where the defendant’s criminal history is legally concealed and ‘forgotten’. A person convicted under PC 148.9 can try to get the offense expunged. To be expunged under the PC §1203.4, the accuser must:
- Complete their probation period
- Stay free from getting charged, probation, or serving a sentence for a criminal offense.
The benefit of being expunged is that the detention history will not be disclosed to anyone, including employers, except if you get to work with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).
Other Crimes Related to False Identification
The three crimes under California law related to false identification include:
1. Resisting Arrest – PC §148
Penal Code §148 is a California law that makes it a crime for anyone to resist obstructing an officer or an emergency medical technician (EMT) during their official duties. Other unlawful activities that prevent a law enforcer from performing their duty include:
- Trying to interfere with the authorities while monitoring a suspect in custody
- Obstructing the police from interviewing a witness of a crime or accident
- Interfering with an officer who is trying to access a crime or accident scene
This crime is punishable by facing one-year imprisonment at a county jail and a maximum fine of $1000.
2. False Statement to an Officer – VC §31
Vehicle Code §31 under the California statutes states that it’s a crime for one to provide false information to a peace officer. The violation of the California vehicle code is punishable by up to six months jail time in county jail and a fine of up to $1000. The false information claims include:
- Counterfeit or borrowed driver’s license
- False name
- Forged or counterfeit registration
- Any false answer to a question asked by an officer
3. False Impersonation – PC §529
Penal Code §529 states that it’s a crime to:
- Perform any act that may lead the impersonated person to face a lawsuit, prosecution, or cater for unknown financial obligations
- Impersonate someone – privately or publicly
Under California law, a false impersonation is known as a wobble. The crime can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. If the offense is charged as a felony, the accused can face up to three years in jail. However, if the case is ruled as a misdemeanor, the defendant can receive a year of jail time at a county jail, including a fine of a maximum of $1000.
Consult a Licensed Legal Professional to Represent You
If you or your loved one had a bad encounter with an officer that led to unlawful arrest or providing false information while under the influence, don’t hesitate to contact a Los Angeles DUI attorney. We will be thrilled to schedule a confidential consultation to assess your case to determine the way forward and advise accordingly.