Pretending to be someone you are not may lead to a criminal impersonation charge. This is a serious offense that carries potentially severe penalties. In New York, criminal impersonation in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor. Criminal impersonation in the first degree is a class E felony. Michael A. Arbeit, P.C. defends individuals throughout Nassau, Suffolk, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx, who have been charged with criminal impersonation and false personation. Here is what you need to know.
Criminal Impersonation in the Second Degree
A person may commit criminal impersonation in the second degree by impersonating another and doing an act of such assumed character with the intent to obtain a benefit or to injure or defraud another. In order to be found guilty of criminal impersonation by impersonating another, it must be proven that the defendant pretended to be a particular person who actually exists. This form of criminal impersonation can constitute a continuing offense because one can impersonate another with the intent to default not only with a single act but also by a series of acts constituting a pattern of behavior.
A person may also criminal impersonation in the second degree by pretending to be a representative of some person or organization. To be found guilty under this theory, a defendant need not assume the identity of another person but need only, with the requisite intent, present to a representative or agent of another person or an organization. One example is when someone pretends to work for a utility company and thereby gains entry into and burglarizes the victim’s home. Another example is when a person solicits donations posing as a fundraiser for a charity.
Criminal impersonation in the second degree may also be committed by a person who pretends to be a public servant. The same holds true for a person who falsely expresses through words or actions that he or she is a public servant or poses as a public servant by wearing or displaying without authority any:
- Identification card
- Any other official insignia or emblem
One who pretends to be a public servant must do so in order to induce another person to submit or rely upon the defendant’s pretended authority. However, the other person need not actually submit to or reply to it. It is likewise unlawful to pretend to be another person via online communication or electronic means with the intent to obtain a benefit or injure or defraud another.
Criminal Impersonation in the First Degree
This crime is committed by a person who poses as a police officer with the intent to induce another to submit to such pretended official authority or otherwise to act in reliance upon such pretense. It involves knowingly and intentionally impersonating a police officer or another public servant and carrying out a serious criminal act. For example, stealing from another person after stopping him by falsely claiming to be exercising the authority of a police officer constitutes criminal impersonation in the first degree, not to mention the crime of robbery. A person is guilty of criminal impersonation in the first degree by posing as a police officer by:
- Using express words to misrepresent himself or herself as a police officer
- Giving the appearance of being a police officer by wearing or displaying a uniform, badge or police insignia without authority
- Committing any acts or deeds to give the impression that he or she is a police officer or has the authority or approval of any police department
This crime is applicable to those who pretend to be:
- Police officers including federal law enforcement officials
- Governmental officials
Another form of criminal impersonation in the first degree is committed when a person pretends to be a duly licensed physician or other professional authorized to issue a prescription for any drug or any instrument or device used in the taking or administering of drugs for which a prescription is required by law and, while doing so, gives an oral prescription to a pharmacist.
Although it is generally considered to be a less serious offense, a person may commit the crime of false personation by misrepresenting his or her name, date of birth, or address to a police officer with the intent to hide his or her true identity. This crime does not involve assuming the identity of someone else. Instead, you are simply giving false information about who you are, which is commonly done out of fear that revealing your true identity will put you in jeopardy.
Choose Long Island Criminal Impersonation Defense Lawyer Michael A. Arbeit, P.C.
Anyone who has been charged with criminal impersonation should immediately seek the advice of an experienced New York defense lawyer to protect their rights and mount the strongest defense possible. If you are facing a criminal impersonation charge, contact Michael A. Arbeit, P.C., Long Island’s leading criminal defense law firm, today to discuss your case.