False Impersonation of a Law Enforcement Officer
In Florida, Section 843.08, F.S., prohibits the false personation (sometimes called “false impersonation”) of a law enforcement officer (LEO). The statute also prohibits false personation of other types of specified persons including:
- Officers including:
- any local police officer;
- federal law enforcement officer as defined in s. 901.1505, F.S.;
- Officer of the Florida Highway Patrol;
- Officer of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission;
- Officer of the Department of Financial Services;
- Officer of the Department of Corrections;
- Sheriff or deputy sheriff;
- Correctional probation officer;
- Prosecutor or Investigator with the State Attorney’s Office including:
- State attorney or assistant state attorney;
- Statewide prosecutor or assistant statewide prosecutor;
- State attorney investigator;
- Personnel or representative of the FDLE;
- Firefighter or fire or arson investigator of the Department of Financial Services;
- Lottery special agent or lottery investigator;
- Beverage enforcement agent;
- Member of the Florida Commission on Offender Review and any administrative aide or supervisor employed by the commission;
- Watchman (a security officer licensed under ch. 493, F.S.); or
A person commits the offense of false personation if the person falsely assumes or pretends to be any person specified in s. 843.08, F.S., and takes it upon himself or herself to act as such person, or requires any other person to aid or assist them in a matter pertaining to the duty of any such specified person.
Attorney for False Personation Crimes in Tampa, FL
If you were charged with impersonating a police officer or another specified person listed in Section 843.08, F.S., then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Tampa, FL. Our main office is located in downtown Tampa in Hillsborough County. We have additional offices in New Port Richey in Pasco County and in Clearwater in Pinellas County, FL.
We can help you understand the elements of false impersonation, the penalties that can be imposed after a conviction, and the best ways to fight the charges. Our attorneys also represent clients charged under Section 817.02 with the related crime of Obtaining Property by False Personation.
Elements of Proving False Personation of a LEO
The crime of false personation requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt of the following elements:
- a person falsely assumes or pretends to be a police officer or a person specified in s. 843.08, F.S., by doing one of the following:
- takes upon himself or herself to act as such; or
- require any other person to aid or assist him or her in a matter pertaining to the duty of any person specified in s. 843.08, F.S.
The standard jury instruction for false personation crimes in Florida, adopted in 2013 [122 So. 3d 302] and amended in 2016, provides:
If you find the defendant guilty of Falsely Personating an Officer and that the impersonation occurred during the commission of a felony, you must then determine whether the State has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the commission of the felony resulted in the death or personal injury to another human being.
In 2015, the Florida legislature enacted SB 1010 (False Personation Ch. Law 2015-29 10/1/2015). The new law amended Section 843.08 to add firefighters and fire or arson investigators to the list of officials who are prohibited from being falsely personated. The new legislation also amended section 843.085 to prohibit the use of badges or indicia of authority bearing the words “fire department,” and prohibited owning or operating vehicles marked “fire department.”
The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL, also represent clients for crimes of obtaining property by false personation under Florida Statute Section 817.02 which prohibits receiving any property intended to be delivered to that person, with intent to convert the same to his or her own use.
Penalties for False Personation in Florida
False personation in violation of s. 843.08, F.S, is generally a third-degree felony. A third-degree felony is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Sections 775.082 and 775.083, F.S. In Florida, false personation is ranked in Level 2 of the Criminal Punishment Code offense severity ranking chart as provided in Section 921.0022(3)(b), F.S.
The crime of false personation can be charged as a second-degree felony if committed during the course of the commission of another felony. A second-degree felony is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Sections 775.082 and 775.083, F.S. When charged as a second-degree felony, the crime of Falsely Impersonating an Officer in the Commission is assigned a Level 4 offense severity ranking under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code.
The crime of false personation can be charged as a first-degree felony if the crime was committed during the course of the commission of another felon that resulted in the death or personal injury of another human being. A first-degree felony is generally punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Sections 775.082 and 775.083, F.S. The crime of Falsely Impersonating an Officer in the Commission of a Felony Causing Injury or Death is assigned a Level 7 offense severity ranking under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code.
The Florida Legislature recently created a first degree misdemeanor under s. 316.2397, F.S., for operating a vehicle displaying red, red and white, or blue lights if in displaying such lights he or she effects or attempts to effect a stop of another vehicle. The statute provides that a court or jury may consider any relevant evidence, including, but not limited to whether a defendant used certain prohibited lights, in determining if a defendant committed an offense of false personation, under s. 843.081, F.S.
False Pretenses and Fraud Crimes in Florida – Visit the website of the Florida Senate to find information on crimes listed in Title XLVI and Chapter 817. In Florida, crimes for false pretense and fraud are defined in Florida Statute Section 817.011 and include obtaining property by false personation, home or private business invasion by false personation, and obtaining of mortgage, a mortgage note, promissory note, etc., by false representation.
This article was last updated on Friday, September 22, 2022.