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Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > Fraud > What Are the Consequences of Impersonating a Police Officer?

What Are the Consequences of Impersonating a Police Officer?


Many of us have tried to talk our way out of a traffic ticket. Especially here in Georgia, where traffic offenses are charged as misdemeanors, this approach may seem worth the effort. A more effective approach, however, is to work with an experienced Atlanta traffic ticket lawyer who can negotiate a plea agreement with the District Attorney or, if you are prepared to fight, take your case to a jury trial.

Man Sentenced to Time Served, Probation, After Presenting Fake Badge to Try and Beat Traffic Ticket

What you should never do is try and get out of a ticket by falsely telling a police officer that you are also a member of law enforcement. This is not considered a “harmless white lie.” It is a criminal offense that can, in some cases, lead to federal charges.

Take this recent case from the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. In United States v. Diamond, a Georgia sheriff’s deputy pulled over the defendant for speeding. The defendant told the deputy that he was an “air marshal” who was in the process of trying to recover his wife’s stolen car. When the deputy asked for identification, the defendant presented a badge that said, “United States Federal Air Marshal.”

As you can probably guess, the defendant was not an air marshal. The deputy immediately suspected the defendant’s “badge” was fake. Another deputy arrived at the scene, and the two officers immediately contacted a local Transportation Security Administration official, who found no record of the defendant in their system.

The deputies then arrested the defendant on state charges of impersonating an officer. Several months later, the Department of Homeland Security arrested the defendant in Alabama and charged him with impersonating a federal officer. While being transported to detention, the defendant said that in retrospect he wished he “had just taken the ticket.”

At trial, the government’s key witness was the defendant’s ex-wife. She testified that just before his state arrest, she found the defendant’s fake air marshal badge and warned him not to try and impersonate an officer because “you can go to jail for that.”

Indeed, the jury found the defendant guilty. He was sentenced to time served and placed on one year of supervised release (federal probation). On appeal to the 11th Circuit, the defendant maintained that merely “presenting a fake badge” did not violate the federal statute, which requires proof a defendant falsely pretends to be a federal officer “and acts as such.” The Court of Appeals squarely rejected that argument, noting the reason the defendant presented his fake badge in the first place was to “exert pressure on influence” the deputies to not give him a traffic ticket.

Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers Today

Nobody likes getting a traffic ticket. But the answer is not to engage in conduct that opens you up to a potential criminal fraud charge. If you need legal advice or representation in fighting a traffic ticket or any other criminal charge, call the Atlanta fraud lawyers at Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Georgia including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.



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