The COVID-19 pandemic has led to many changes in the everyday lives of people all over the world, but it’s also inspired some people to break the law…in very odd ways.
People have reported being stopped by police officers in two Colorado cities to check if they were obeying stay-at-home orders. The police impersonators went as far as to ask for the driver’s license, proof of insurance, and car registration.
In Fort Collins, one of the cities in which these incidents occurred, the police claim they are not pulling people over for anything related to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.
Impersonating a police officer is a serious crime in Colorado. Actually, impersonating anyone can lead you to serious trouble. Here’s what you need to know about criminal impersonation laws in Colorado and the penalties associated with them if you are caught.
What Is Criminal Impersonation?
Criminal impersonation is a crime that a person must commit knowingly. According to Colorado Law, someone knowingly commits criminal impersonation if they assume a fictitious or false identity and in doing so:
- Pretends to marry or legally marries someone who doesn’t know their true identity
- Becomes the surety or bail for someone in a criminal or civil proceeding in court or before a court officer authorized to take surety or bail
- Performs an act which, if done by the person falsely being impersonated, would subject that person to a civil or criminal proceeding or action, or subject them to liability, penalty, forfeiture, or charge
- Confesses a judgment or publishes, acknowledges, verifies, proves, or subscribes a written instrument with the intent that is delivered as true
- Does any act with the intent to gain benefit for themselves or someone else unlawfully or to defraud or injure someone else
Note, you can also be charged with criminal impersonation if you attempt to impersonate a person who is deceased.
Criminal Impersonation Usually Accompanies Additional Charges
Criminal impersonation is a crime that is also frequently charged alongside other crimes. These can include things such as identity theft, gathering identity information by deception, or unauthorized use of a financial transaction device.
If found guilty of criminal impersonation alongside another crime, you may be looking at up to 12 years in prison, depending on the seriousness of the crime. For now, let’s take a look at the penalties specifically for a criminal impersonation charge.
The Penalties for Criminal Impersonation in Colorado
In Colorado, criminal impersonation all by itself is a Class 6 felony, which is punishable by:
- Up to 18 months in prison
- Fines up to $100,000
Another important thing to note about criminal impersonation is that it’s a crime of “moral turpitude.” The result is that it can have a serious negative impact on immigration status if the person who commits the impersonation is not a citizen of the United States.
How Felony Impersonation in Colorado Impacts Your Future
When someone is convicted of felony impersonation, then it can have a huge impact on their future endeavors. In fact, in the future a felon may have difficulty:
- Applying for or maintaining employment
- Passing a background check
- Procurement of a loan through a bank or another lender
- Obtaining certain licensures
This is why it’s essential to properly defend yourself against criminal impersonation. This is often done in court by:
- Proving that the impersonation never occurred
- Proving the there was no intent to defraud with the impersonation
- Showing that underlying actions never occurred
Criminal impersonation can land you in hot water, even if it seems relatively harmless. It’s best to avoid it altogether in order to keep from being charged with a felony.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012 & 2019” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2020 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.