False Personation / Impersonation | California PC 530

Taking on the persona of another person in California is often a serious criminal offense. ‘False personation’ is an in-depth and specific law that covers a number of criminal activities; commission of any of these activities while impersonating another will bring with it serious jail time if convicted.

The State of California actually sets forth the law defining false personation, as well as the possible punishments if a person is convicted of this crime. The actual bail amounts will vary between counties, and they will be large – so, it’s in your best interest to contact one of our Bail Hotline’s locations and have a bail agent work on your release for only 10% of the face amount of bail.

Crimes of False Personation

False personation can take many forms that are punishable under the law. The first mention of personation in California Penal Code 530 is that it is a felony to impersonate a person and marry or pretend to marry another, even if the person married was aware of the impersonation. The next mention is that credibly impersonating another person on the Internet in an effort to defraud, harass or intimidate another person is also a punishable crime.

The law goes on to say that impersonating a person in either their official or private capacity is a crime, if the offender engages in certain activities. These activities include making bail or becoming the surety for an arrestee, verifying or publishing a document in another person’s name in an effort for the document to be used as true, or performing any other act which would leave the person impersonated liable for civil or criminal penalties.

False personation laws go on to describe manufacturing, selling or providing false birth certificates, false baptismal certificates or false government-issued identification cards as a crime. A person can even be charged with false personation if they say they are someone else in an effort to receive a payment meant for the person they’re impersonating. Assisting anyone in obtaining a document from the Department of Motor Vehicles that they don’t legitimately deserve is also considered a crime under false personation. The law goes on to define several other instances of personation. Most of these laws involve committing fraud while impersonating another.

Bail and Penalties

The preset bail amounts in most California County bail schedules usually treat all instances of false personation as one crime regardless of the possible outcome of trial. Los Angeles and Santa Barbara Counties, for instance, list a fifty thousand dollar bail amount for false personation; Monterey and San Benito Counties, however, only require a ten thousand dollar bail amount.
The penalties related to false personation vary depending on the actual act committed. Harassing someone online through impersonating another person is punishable by one year in jail and a fine of one thousand dollars. Manufacturing, selling, providing and owning false birth certificates, baptismal certificates and identification cards will bring the same one-year jail sentence and fine.

Impersonating another person to obtain bail for a defendant, publish or verify a written document as true – or commission of any act which could bring civil or criminal liabilities to the impersonated – is punishable by the same year in jail and a fine of ten thousand dollars. There are various ways, such as repeated offenses, for these penalties to increase; though first time offenders usually face a year in jail plus fines.

Anyone who is charged with this crime and doesn’t wish to spend a year or more in prison would do well to post bail and seek an attorney’s assistance as soon as possible. These charges are not minor and can end badly for the accused if they don’t have a knowledgeable attorney. 

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