Under Maryland state law, police impersonation is part of the Public Safety Code section that deals with law enforcement. The Public Safety code is where the majority of gun crimes are listed, and generally public safety code violations are fairly serious offenses. The 2-year maximum jail sentence also comes with the potential for a $2,000 fine, and anyone convicted would then be prohibited under state and federal law from possessing a firearm. The state law prohibits anyone from falsely representing that they are an officer with fraudulent intent or design. This means that the state has to prove more than just that a defendant said he or she was a police officer. The fraudulent design language requires the state to prove some sort of criminal intent, such as unduly influencing another. It would not be illegal to walk up to a person and state that you are a cop, but if you were trying to get something out of it you could face prosecution. The law also prohibits wearing a police uniform or badge with the intent to deceive. Finally, one section seems to place a blanket prohibition on wearing uniforms, badges, patches etc. of state or local law enforcement regardless of intent. This section may not actually be legal, and could face a Constitutional challenge if prosecuted.by the state.
While impersonating a police officer under Maryland state law prohibits a person from wearing federal law enforcement attire with the intent to deceive, this type of case is also punishable under federal law. 18 U.S. Code §912 prohibits a individual from falsely assuming or pretending to be an officer acting under the authority of the United States. It is not necessary for the government to prove a defendant actually obtained anything of value by pretending to be an officer or agent, but that is certainly one way to prove the case. The federal law does not prohibit simply wearing federal law enforcement attire, so there is an element of criminal intent required. Violation of the federal law is considered a felony that is punishable by up to 3 years in prison. The feds will typically step in and prosecute these cases only when an individual has taken various premeditated steps to assume the identity of a federal officer or agent. We have seen a host of cases where an intoxicated individual simply pretends to be a federal agent in the moment, and these cases would almost always stay in state court.
Benjamin Herbst is a criminal defense lawyer who specializes in Maryland police impersonation cases. He represents adults and juveniles, and can provide a detailed outline of the defenses that may be available as well as the steps necessary to obtain a favorable outcome. Call Benjamin today and start fighting back against the government.