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Identity Theft

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The Identity Theft Crimes: False Impersonation/False Personation

What is False Impersonation/False Personation?

Identity Theft is codified into California Law under Penal Code Chapter 8, entitled “False Personation and Cheats.”

Penal Code Chapter 8 section 529, makes it a crime to “falsely personate another in either his or her private or official capacity, and in that assumed character do any of the following:

1) Become bail or surety for any party in any proceeding whatever, before any court or officer authorized to take that bail or surety.

(2) Verify, publish, acknowledge, or prove, in the name of another person, any written instrument, with intent that the same may be recorded, delivered, or used as true.

(3) Do any other act whereby, if done by the person falsely personated, he might, in any event, become liable to any suit or prosecution, or to pay any sum of money, or to incur any charge, forfeiture, or penalty, or whereby any benefit might accrue to the party personating, or to any other person.”

What does that mean in English?

In English, a person can’t pretend to be someone else when they’re bonding someone out of jail, when they’re writing or signing a document intending the document to be legally effective, or when committing any kind of civil wrong or crime.

What’s the Worst that could happen?

The identity theft series, Penal Code sections 528 through 539 describes numerous other, more specific crimes and their varying punishments. This articles focuses primarily on the broadest identity theft statute, False Personation under Penal Code section 529.

Per Penal Code section 529(b), False Impersonation is punishable as either a misdemeanor or a felony

As a felony: $10,000 fine and 16 months or 2 or 3 years in state prison

As a misdemeanor: $1,000 fine and up to 1 year in county jail.

Also, under Article I section 28 of the California constitution, any person convicted of a crime must be ordered to pay restitution to the victim. Restitution is the amount that the victim lost because of the alleged criminal conduct. So in addition to fines and jail, a person will generally be ordered to repay whatever the value that was allegedly taken.

What defenses are available?

To convict a defendant of false personation under Penal Code section 529, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt

  1. The defendant falsely impersonated another person in the other person’s private or official capacity AND
  2. While falsely impersonating that person, the defendant bonded someone out of jail OR wrote or signed a document intending the document to be legally effective OR committed any kind of civil wrong or crime.

There is no specific mental state for this crime other than the intention of impersonating someone else.

However, you only need to raise reasonable doubt as to one element of the offense to secure a not guilty verdict.

So, the defenses include the defendant IS the person he held himself out to be, or that he DID NOT hold himself out to be someone else while he bonded someone out of jail, wrote or signed a legal document, or committed a civil wrong or crime.

Impersonation/Personation/Identity Theft?

You should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney, like those at Manshoory Law Group, APC to assist you in analyzing the specific facts of your case, preparing and presenting defenses before and during trial, and making sure you understand your rights and helping you enforce them. The risks of an Identity Theft conviction are too great to go-it alone. Don’t wait until its too late, let LA’s best criminal defense group begin your strategy today. (877) 977-7750.