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False Personation Law & Defense

Penal Code 529

The law on the crime of false personation is found at California penal code section 529. 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

The law of PC 529

PC 529(a) Every person who falsely personates another in either his or her private or official capacity, and in that assumed character does any of the following, is punishable pursuant to subdivision (b),

PC 529(a)(1) Becomes bail or surety for any party in any proceeding, before any court or officer authorized to take bail or surety.

PC 529(a)(2) Verifies, publishes, acknowledges, or proves, in the name or another person, any written instrument, with intent that the same may be recorded, delievered, or used as true.

PC 529(a)(3) Does 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...

Sentence & Punishment for False Personation

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 state prison or in the county jail (PC 1170(h)).

Whether or not the district attorney files misdemeanor or felony false personation charges depends largely on the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history.

In some cases it may be possible to reduce the criminal charges or even have them dismissed depending on the facts of the case and the strength of the applicable defenses. Probation sentences, as opposed to actual jail, is available in some false personation crimes.

Collateral consequences for PC 529 crimes

In addition to the possibility of any jail or prison sentence, 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), immigration and professional licensing consequences (PC 529 is a crime of moral turpitude).

Note: false personation is not considered a serious or violent felony as though terms are defined in California's Three Strikes Sentencing Law. Jail or prison sentences associated with PC 529 convictions may be served at half-time (50%), so long as the defendant (prisoner) earns good time credits while in jail or prison.

Defenses to PC 529 (False Personation) 

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 twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Call today!


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California Penal Code 529: False Personation

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