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Criminal Impersonation vs. False Reporting in Colorado

Under C.R.S. 18-5-113, Criminal Impersonation is a felony offense in Colorado and requires the assistance of an experienced attorney to fight the charges in Boulder, Jefferson, and Arapahoe County. Criminal impersonation charges can arise in a variety of scenarios but most typically, it is charged when a person is accused of using a false identity to get a benefit. For example, if the police stop you for a traffic stop and you use another name because you know that there is a warrant for your arrest, the fact that you are evading arrest elevates the case from a simple traffic stop to a class 6 felony. In this scenario, the prosecutor will allege that your benefit is that you were able to remain at large by lying to the police.

However, not all cases involving false statements made to law enforcement constitute criminal impersonation. If you provide false information to law enforcement and do not receive a benefit, you can still be charged with False Reporting, C.R.S. 18-8-111. False reporting also encompasses a variety of other situations but in this context, giving false information to law enforcement is a class 3 misdemeanor as opposed to the felony nature of criminal impersonation.

Recently, I had a case where my client was intoxicated at a local bar. The police contacted him about needing to leave the bar and he allegedly said to them, "Don't mess with me, I'm a cop". The officers on the scene charged him with criminal impersonation because he was not a police officer. The chief issue in that case was whether he actually received a benefit from the false statement since the officers had no intention of arresting him for being intoxicated, they just wanted him to leave. Because there was no benefit, we were able to get the charges reduced significantly to false reporting, for which he received a deferred judgment.

Although a misdemeanor is undoubtedly better than a felony, the problem with criminal impersonation and false reporting is that both of these crimes have to deal with lying to authorities and can impact you if you ever testify in court. Moreover, neither crime is easily explained on a background check. If you are charged with this felony crime or false reporting, take the allegations seriously, as both can affect you for years to come. Don't let a mistake made out of fear jeopardize your future.

We have spent years defending the accused against felonies and misdemeanors, in Douglas, Broomfield and Adams County, and we can help you. So, be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and call us today at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.

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