A woman in Falls Township claims to have been pulled over by someone who was impersonating a police officer. While a relatively rare offense and one that does not necessarily have a victim, impersonating a cop carries surprisingly harsh penalties that warrant the help of a criminal defense attorney like Joseph D. Lento.
Woman Claims Person Behind Traffic Stop Was Not a Police Officer
The incident happened in the Fairless Hills neighborhood, outside of Philadelphia. According to the initial reports, the woman was driving along Business Route 1 in the middle of the morning when a dark Ford Crown Victoria vehicle flashed red and blue lights from its dashboard. When she pulled over, a middle-aged man with a “dirty appearance” exited the vehicle and asked for the woman's ID.
The man was not in a police officer's uniform but may have had a badge on.
When the man asked the woman to exit her vehicle, she became suspicious. When she protested about the traffic stop, he handed her ID back and left so she called the police.
Impersonating a Police Officer
18 Pa.C.S. §4912 is the statute in Pennsylvania that prohibits “impersonating a public servant,” including a police officer. Unlike the law against impersonating a police officer in a lot of other states, Pennsylvania's law is vague and potentially encompasses a huge spectrum of conduct. Under the statute, all that is necessary is to intend to induce someone else to “submit to… pretended official authority” or act against their interests, based on the idea that they are dealing with a cop. This can include lots of innocent conduct, including playing a joke on a friend.
A strange outcome of the statute is that failed attempts to get someone else to do something by acting like a police officer are just as culpable as successful ones.
Steep Penalties for a Conviction
A conviction for impersonating a police officer carries significant penalties, as the offense is a second-degree misdemeanor. These come with:
- Up to $5,000 in fines
- Up to 2 years in jail
- A criminal history that includes a conviction for a crime of deception
The blemish on your criminal background can be especially severe, as it can prove to be a barrier when you apply for jobs or even a loan, and can impact your life for long after the jail sentence is completed and the fines are paid.
Philadelphia's Criminal Defense Lawyer: Joseph D. Lento
An accusation that you were impersonating a police officer is not a small issue. Worse, people who are surprised by the accusation can feel like it was all a misunderstanding and try explaining what was really going on, which often includes confessing to the crime.
Talking to an experienced criminal defense lawyer like Joseph D. Lento in these situations is essential. The stakes are shockingly high for what might seem like a trivial offense, so bringing in legal representation to defend your rights and interests can be a wise move to make. Call attorney Lento at his Philadelphia law office – (215) 535-5353 – or contact him online.