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False Identification to Police Officer - Penal Code 148.9 PC

Posted by Sam Israels | Jul 01, 2023

In California, suppose a police officer lawfully detains you and asks you to identify yourself. In that case, under the law, you must tell them the truth. If you provide a false name, you just committed a crime.

Penal Code 148.9 PC is the statute that makes it a misdemeanor to provide false identifying information to a law enforcement officer knowingly.

False Identification to Police Officer - Penal Code 148.9 PC
It's a crime under PC 148.9 to knowingly provide false identifying information to a police officer.

Notably, unless you are lawfully detained or arrested by police, you don't usually have to identify yourself. However, you could face charges under this law if you give false identifying information.

PC 148.9 says, “(a) Any person who falsely represents or identifies himself or herself as another person or as a fictitious person to any peace officer listed in Section 830.1 or 830.2, or subdivision (a) of Section 830.33, upon a lawful detention or arrest of the person, either to evade the process of the court or to evade the proper identification of the person by the investigating officer is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

(b) Any person who falsely represents or identifies themselves as another person or as a fictitious person to any police officer…upon lawful detention or arrest is guilty if (1) the false information is given while the peace officer is engaged in the performance of their duties as a peace officer and (2) the person providing the false information knows or should have known that the person receiving the information is a peace officer.”

Many people will panic and make a quick decision to lie about their name when stopped by a police officer. Some attempt to conceal their identity because they know they have an active arrest warrant. Let's review this law further below.

What Does the Law Say?

As noted, Penal Code 48.9 PC prohibits anyone from falsely representing their identification to a police officer using a fictitious name or another person's name for the purpose of evading.

Other things you should know about this law include the following:

  • This statute only applies in lawful detention or arrest. Otherwise, you are not legally required to give the police your name.
  • This statute also only applies when police are in the performance of their duties, and you know it. For example, suppose you falsely identify yourself with a fake name to an undercover police officer who did not identify themselves as the police. In that case, you can't be charged with violating this law because you were not knowingly evading an investigation.
  • Falsely identifying yourself means falsely providing any information that might be used for personal identification, such as giving police a fake name, ID, address, date of birth, etc.

What are the Related Crimes?

  • Penal Code 148 PC resisting arrest is to willfully impede or obstruct a peace officer or EMT from performing their duties;
  • Penal Code 529 PC false impersonation means to pose under someone's identity for improper gains, such as theft or fraud, or to do something to implicate somebody in wrongdoing;
  • Vehicle Code 31 VC false information to a police officer prohibits giving a police officer a fake name, driver's license, counterfeit registration, or inaccurate information to a question knowingly.

What Are the Penalties If Convicted?

Suppose you are convicted of violating PC 148.9 by providing false identification to police. In that case, you are facing the following penalties:

  • a maximum of 6 months in jail, and
  • a fine of up to $1000.

The judge has the discretion to impose misdemeanor summary probation as an alternative to any jail time.

What are the Defenses for PC 148.9?

Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers can use different strategies for the best possible outcome. To convict you of violating PC 148.9, prosecutors must prove all the crime elements.

These include deliberately giving false identifying information to a peace officer that lawfully detained or arrested you. Also, you knew they were a police officer performing their official duties.

Defenses for False Identification to Police Officer
Contact our law firm to review the case details.

Maybe we can argue that you were not legally detained or arrested. Suppose you gave police a fake name before detention or arrest, then you are not guilty of violating this law.

Maybe we can argue that the police were not acting within the legal scope of their duties. Suppose they were undercover, and you did not know. Suppose they were off-duty. In that case, you can't be convicted under this law.

Maybe we can show that you were falsely accused. Perhaps a police officer became angry over some of your statements and decided to charge you of providing false identifying information to give them an alleged reason to arrest you.

If you have been accused of violating 148.9 PC, contact our law firm to review the details and options. We offer a free case evaluation. Cron, Israels & Stark is based in Los Angeles, California.

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About the Author

Sam Israels

Sam J. Israels is a Law Firm partner with the Law Offices of Cron, Israels, & Stark. Mr. Israels received his J.D. degree from the Santa Clara University School of Law. Mr. Israels also previously worked at the Los Angeles Office of the City Attorney. He is admitted to practice law in the State o...

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