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There are numerous provisions of Florida law that make it a crime to impersonate a police officer, and all are treated seriously by state prosecutors and judges. Charges related to impersonation of an officer range from a first-degree misdemeanor for unlawful use of badges and police lights to a first-degree felony for false personation during the course of a felony. If you have been charged with any of these offenses contact South Florida criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Herbst at (954) 543-0305. Benjamin specializes in false personation of law enforcement and unlawful use of badges in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County. He is also an experienced Treasure Coast criminal lawyer for clients with cases in Martin and St. Lucie County. Benjamin is available 7 days a week to offer a free consultation over the phone or in his Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach offices, and he is willing to travel to meet in any location from Miami to Port St. Lucie. Do not gamble with your future by walking into court without an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Florida judges will not hesitate to make an example out of anyone charged with false personation, but a lawyer can make sure this does not happen.
Under Florida statute 843.08 there are two main elements for the crime of false personation. First, the defendant must have pretended to be an officer or other person with official authority. This could mean any profession including police officers, firefighters, state prosecutors, probation officers, and licensed security officers. Simply pretending to be an officer is not a crime though, as the person also has to use his or her fake identity to act as person with authority or to cause another person to offer aid or assistance. Walking around with a police costume or telling someone you are a cop does not meet the legal requirement unless that person is influenced in some way. False personation is a third-degree felony under Florida law, unless it is done during the course of a felony. A person who poses as an officer in order facilitate a felony theft for example would also face second-degree felony charges for false personation. If a death or even personal injury occurs during the course of the felony, then a defendant may face first-degree felony charges. Benjamin Herbst specializes in all false personation charges in South Florida, and he is standing by to explain what defenses may be available in your case.
Florida law also prohibits the unlawful use of badges or other indicia of authority, and a violation of this provision is a first-degree misdemeanor under section 843.085. Unlawful use of badges typically means wearing a police or other law enforcement badge in a visible manner. The law also prohibits wearing any type of clothing that displays the words police, agent, sheriff, deputy, trooper, state attorney, fire department and other official positions with the intent to mislead another person. If the state cannot prove the defendant wore the badge or clothing with the intent to mislead then the case will be dismissed. Badges and clothing are not the only objects where false indicia is prohibited, as painting any type of official symbols or words on a vehicle with the intent to mislead is also a crime. Selling or transferring any of these objects without authorization also falls under this criminal statute. Benjamin is a criminal defense lawyer who fights for clients charged with unlawful use of badges in all South Florida and Treasure Coast jurisdictions.
Over the last several years Florida lawmakers have made attempts to protect motorists from scams involving the unlawful use of police lights. In response of a rash of these cases, the legislature made it a crime from civilians to use any flashing or revolving blue light on their vehicle unless they are an authorized law enforcement officer or agent. The law does not require the defendant to actually have the blue light on and flashing, as driving with certain blue lights could be a crime if the lights are visible. Prohibited use of lights is a first-degree misdemeanor under Florida law, and while it may seem like a minor offense, state prosecutors and judges do not feel the same way. Contact South Florida criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Herbst if you have been charged with any obstruction of justice offense including false personation, unlawful use of badges and prohibited use of certain lights.