False Personation Law & Defense
Penal Code 529
The law on the crime of false personation is found at California penal code section 529.
False personation means to pretend to be someone else to harm the person whose identity is impersonated or to gain a benefit for the person who impersonates (pretends to be someone else).
To prove that the defendant is guilty of PC 529, the district attorney must prove:
The defendant assumed the identity of another person, and
When the defendant assumed the identity of another person he or she did so to defraud someone or some entity
For example, pretending to be another person, such as an alleged victim, who speaks on behalf of another defendant at that defendant's sentencing hearing is guilty of false personation.
Note: Whether or not the defendant is actually able to benefit from his or her false personation is not important to the crime. it is a crime if the defendant attempted to harm the person impersonated or attempted to benefit from his or her impersonation of another person. If the defendant is able to defraud a victim from false presenting himself or herself as someone else, then he or she may be charged with additional theft type crimes.
Sentence for PC 529
Jail Sentence: PC 529 may be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. When PC 529 is charged as a misdemeanor the defendant may face up to one year in the county jail. When PC 529 is charged as a felony the defendant may face up to three years in the county jail (PC 1170(h)).
Probation Sentence: if convicted of false personation, the defendant may be allowed to serve his or her sentence on probation (as opposed to be ordered to jail). Probation sentences for felony conviction is called formal probation, which is monitored by a probation officer. Probation sentences for misdemeanor convictions is called informal or summary probation, which is monitored by the court. Whether or not the defendant will be granted a probation sentence after a conviction for false personation depends on the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history (among other factors).
PC 1170(h) Sentence: If the defendant is convicted of PC 529 and he or she was not granted probation, then the defendant may serve his jail time in a local county jail as opposed to a state prison. In addition, with court permission, the defendant might be able to serve some part of his jail sentence on house arrest or work release (as opposed to serving the while sentence in jail). Also, in some cases of PC 529, it might be possible to have the defendant's jail sentence suspended, which means the defendant does not have to serve the jail sentence unless he or she violates some condition of his or her out of custody sentence.
CIMT: PC 529 is considered a crime involving moral turpitude. This means that the crime involves deceit . Crimes involving moral turpitude can lead harsh consequences for non United States citizens in that those person may be deported or denied reentry into the United States upon a conviction for PC 529.
Note: False personation is not considered a serious or violent felony as those terms are defined in California's Three Strikes Sentencing Law. Jail sentences associated with PC 529 convictions may be served at half time (50%), so long as the accused earns good behavior credits while in jail.
Bail: The scheduled bail amount for false personation charges in San Bernardino County is $50,000 for felony PC 529 and $5,000 for misdemeanor PC 529. It might be possible to have the defendant's bail decreased at the defendant's initial court hearing (arraignment) or at some subsequent bail reduction hearing. Release without the need for bail (Own Recognizance Release or OR) may also be possible depending on the defendant's ability afford bail, the defendant's danger to the community upon any release from custody, the defendant's risk of flight (fleeing after released from custody), and other factors.
In addition to the possibility of any jail, if found guilty of PC 529, the defendant may face the following penalties: fines up to $10,000 (PC 529(b)). Harsh probation or parole terms, restraining orders, restitution or civil lawsuits, prohibition from owning firearms (for felony false personation), denial of entry into the armed services (military), and more.
Defenses to PC 529
Common defenses to false personation charges include: insufficient evidence, insanity, police misconduct that leads to a suppression of physical or oral evidence, and coerced confessions.
If you are charged with the crime of false personation, or penal code 529, contact our criminal defense lawyers today. There is no charge for a consultation and our experienced and successful attorneys are available seven days a week to assist you. Call today!
Quick Reference Sheet
Crime: False Personation
Code: PC 529 (CalCrim No. 2044)
Wobbler: Yes. PC 529 is a wobbler crime. This means that the crime may be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor.
Incarceration: Felony PC 529 ail sentence range: 16 months, 2 or 3 years jail. Misdemeanor jail sentence up to 1 year.
Probation: Probation is available in felony and misdemeanor PC 529 cases (assuming other crimes or enhancements that bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.
Work Release or House Arrest: In some cases, a probation sentence can include actual in-custody county jail, house arrest (electronic monitoring), or work release (or some combination of these penalties); however, most in-custody jail sentence orders that are required as a terms of probation are much shorter than the maximum jail sentence.
PC 1170(h)): Yes. Felony PC 529 is subject to PC 1170(h) sentencing. This means that any jail or prison sentence may be:
Split (half in-custody / half out-of-custody)
Suspended (possibly never served)
Served in county jail (not state prison)
Strike: PC 529 is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.
Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.
CIMT: PC 529 is a crime involving moral turpitude, which means that an arrest or conviction could lead to the following:
Professional Licensing problems
Impeachment on credibility
Firearms: Felony PC 529 convictions prohibit a defendant from owning or possessing a firearm.
Bail: $50,000 (Felony); $5,000 (Misdemeanor)