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Criminal Impersonation

Everyone has a unique identity that distinguishes them from others. You must always use your identity when obtaining help, support, and service from another person or government. Sadly, some people assume a fake identity to trick or defraud others or the government, which is a crime under ARS 13-2006. According to this law, you can face grave consequences for criminal impersonation, including a two-year prison sentence and a hefty court fine. Other consequences could follow, depending on the seriousness of your actions.

If you face criminal impersonation charges in Phoenix and are worried about the likely penalties you will receive after a Class 6 felony conviction, we could help you at Phoenix Criminal Attorney. We handle all kinds of fraud crimes and can help you understand the seriousness of your charges, your options, and the best strategies to obtain a fair outcome. Our skills and experience could compel the court to dismiss or reduce your charges.

Legal Definition of Criminal Impersonation

The law against criminal impersonation is under ARS 13-2006. You omit this offense when you assume a fake identity, intending to trick or defraud another person. The crime is a Class 6 felony, punishable by a maximum prison sentence of two years and a court fine. This law specifically prohibits the following criminal acts:

  • Using a false ID when seeking help or favor from another person or organization to defraud them
  • Pretending to represent a particular organization or person to defraud another person or organization
  • Pretending to represent or work for another person or organization to compel another person to serve or give you access to a particular property. You are exempt from persecution if you do this and are a peace officer performing their duty
  • Falsely using an organization’s ID or a fake employee’s ID to obtain favor from another person or organization

Here are examples of actions that could result in charges under this law:

  • Using another person’s SSN against the owner’s consent to obtain favor or employment
  • Using someone else’s credit card details in a written application to obtain money in advance

In a case like this, the prosecutor bears the burden to demonstrate that you committed criminal impersonation and, therefore, should be sentenced under ARS 13-2006. They must show this offense's elements beyond a reasonable doubt for the court to deliver a guilty verdict. These elements include the following:

  • You knowingly assumed another person’s identity or
  • You pretended to represent a particular person, organization, or
  • Your intention at the time was to defraud another person or organization
  • You pretended to be a representative or employee of a particular organization to gain access to property you are otherwise not authorized to access

First, the prosecutor must demonstrate that you acted knowingly or purposely. Your actions were not by accident or a joke.

They must also demonstrate that your actions had the criminal intent of defrauding another person or organization. Intending to defraud another means to trick or deceive the other person for personal gain.

Possible Penalties for a Criminal Impersonation Conviction

Criminal impersonation is a Class 6 felony offense, which places it among the least severe felonies in Arizona. A conviction will result in a prison sentence of four months to two years.

However, some factors can increase your prison sentence to six years. Examples of these factors include the following:

  • If your actions were dangerous and could have resulted in physical harm or death,
  • If your actions put a minor in danger,
  • If you are a repeat offender or have one or more prior convictions for a similar offense,
  • If your actions have aggravating factors, including actual physical harm or significant loss of money,
  • If you have a serious criminal history,.

Prosecutors are also willing to charge you with a misdemeanor in the presence of mitigating factors. For example, if you are a first-time offender and your actions did not cause actual harm to a person or organization, the prosecutor could file a misdemeanor charge. A Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by six months in jail and a court fine of $250.

The judge can sentence you to felony probation instead of prison. Felony probation will allow you to serve your time out of incarceration. You can remain with your family, continue working, or run your business. But you will be under the supervision of the probation department. A probation officer will work closely with you to ensure you complete your probation as the court orders. They will also write periodic reports to the court about your progress. The judge will give you probation conditions to abide by throughout your probation. Examples of these conditions are:

  • You must remain within the court’s jurisdiction throughout the probation period.
  • You must not be arrested or face charges for another crime
  • You must participate in community service
  • You could be required to undergo drug treatment or rehabilitation.

Criminal Impersonation as a Dangerous Offense

The judge will give a stiffer sentence if your actions constitute a dangerous offense. According to ARS 13-704, the judge can increase your penalties for a crime classified as dangerous. A felony offense becomes dangerous under the following circumstances:

  • You used, discharged, or threateningly displayed a dangerous or deadly weapon like a gun
  • You intentionally or knowingly inflicted a severe bodily injury on another person

If the judge finds you guilty of a dangerous felony under this statute, they could sentence you to three years in prison instead of two years.

Other Consequences of a Criminal Conviction

A conviction results in other life-changing consequences that will apply to you after a conviction for criminal impersonation. For example, you will automatically have a criminal record after your conviction, affecting various aspects of your life. People with criminal records are treated differently in some situations.

For example, a prospective employer can disqualify you when applying for a job based on your criminal record. Even though the law prohibits employers from disqualifying potential employees based on their criminal past, employers are skeptical about hiring people with criminal backgrounds. After running a background check on you, they can make a hiring decision based on their findings.

Landlords, too, run background checks on people seeking to rent or lease their property. They can make a decision on whether or not to rent or lease from you based on their findings. Some insurance companies will increase their rates after learning about your criminal past. You should hire a skilled criminal defense attorney to help you fight your charges for a favorable outcome.

A criminal record could also affect your social life. People with a criminal background have difficulty making friends, especially when people know of your arrest and conviction. You will likely lose friends or family relationships after serving time behind bars. It becomes challenging to salvage some of those failed relationships.

Fighting Charges Under ARS 13-2006

Fortunately, you can avoid a conviction for criminal impersonation and its consequences by putting up a solid defense against your charges during the trial. The law allows you to gather evidence and prepare a compelling defense to obtain a fair outcome for your case. You can quickly and successfully do this with the help of a skilled criminal attorney. Criminal attorneys have many legal defense strategies to weaken the prosecutor’s case or compel the judge to rule in your favor. The judge can dismiss or reduce your charges following a successful defense.

Here are some of the best strategies your attorney can use in your case:

Your Actions Were Accidental

ARS 13-2006 requires you to have acted willfully with a fraudulent intent to be guilty of criminal impersonation. For example, you must have willfully used another person's credit card details or social security number to be guilty. However, if you demonstrate that your actions were accidental and not deliberate, the judge can dismiss your charges.

You could have accidentally committed criminal impersonation by mistakenly providing another person’s identifying details, not yours. For example, if you incorrectly entered an incorrect digit when submitting your SSN or credit card number, you are not guilty of criminal impersonation. But you must convince the jury that the mistake was honest and not willful.

You Did Not Have Fraudulent Intentions

The prosecutor must demonstrate your fraudulent intent to obtain a guilty verdict. If not, the judge will dismiss your charges. A fraudulent intent occurs when you or someone else stands to benefit from your actions. For example, using another person's credit card details to obtain an advance payment or goods without their consent qualifies as fraudulent intent.

However, you do not have fraudulent intent if you do not stand to benefit from your actions. For example, suppose you submit false credit card details in a particular application to impress the person handling the application, not for fraudulent purposes. In that case, you are not guilty under this statute. A skilled attorney will know how best to argue your case to convince the jury that your intentions were anything but fraudulent.

You are Falsely Accused

If someone falsely accuses you of criminal impersonation, you must fight hard to avoid paying for a crime you did not commit. False accusations are common in criminal cases; judges, prosecutors, and criminal attorneys know it. Your attorney will prepare a good defense for you to demonstrate that you did not commit the crime for which you were accused.

But you must convince the jury of the same for them to deliver a not guilty verdict. If someone accuses you out of jealousy, a desire for revenge, or to become even with you, you must demonstrate it in court.

In some cases, when someone faces false accusations, the prosecutor cannot demonstrate all of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Your experienced attorney can compel the judge to dismiss your charges.

The Police Misconducted Themselves During Arrest or Investigation

The law allows you to contest your charges if there was police misconduct during your arrest or crime investigation. The police have detailed guidelines on how to conduct themselves when performing their duty. They must not violate your rights by being brutal, using tricks, or failing to explain your Miranda rights. If any of these happen, you can compel the judge to dismiss your charges.

For example, suppose the arresting officer failed to read your Miranda rights or violated your rights to an attorney. In that case, you can compel the judge to dismiss any evidence they gathered after that violation. Remember that you have a right to protect yourself from self-incrimination. If the police used force, fear, or aggression to obtain evidence from you, you can compel the judge to throw that evidence out of court.

You Can Take or Ask for a Plea Deal

Not all cases that prosecutors file in court end up on trial. Prosecutors sometimes offer plea bargains, whereby you plead guilty to a lesser offense to avoid a trial. When you do that, your case will go straight to sentencing. The prosecutor can offer a plea deal if they do not have compelling evidence against you. Alternatively, your attorney can request a plea deal if they are unsure of your case’s outcome.

Remember that criminal impersonation is a Class 6 felony offense. Your defense attorney can agree to a misdemeanor charge that allows you to serve your sentence out of incarceration. Additionally, a misdemeanor conviction does not result in grave penalties like a felony. You could petition the court to set aside your conviction once you complete your probation sentence and pay all court fines.

While you cannot benefit from expungement in Arizona, the court can set aside your conviction record, enabling you to start life afresh, away from the negative effects of a criminal record.

Criminal Impersonation and Related Charges

Criminal impersonation is closely related to some offenses under the law, including the following:

Perjury Under ARS 13-2702

You commit perjury when you make a false sworn or unsworn declaration or statement regarding a particular issue, knowing that the declaration is false. For example, lying about a particular case in a criminal trial. This law protects the justice system from using falsifications, false swearing, and false testimonies in deliberations.

Perjury is a Class 4 felony offense, punishable by a maximum of four years in prison. You will also be subject to other penalties and life-changing consequences, including court fines after conviction.

Criminal impersonation and perjury have similar elements but differ because the latter does not require you to act with fraudulent intent.

Forgery Under ARS 13-2002

Forgery is also fraud-related when you falsely complete or make a written document. You can also face forgery charges for possessing, presenting, or offering a fake or forged document.

The statute also requires an element of knowledge whereby you commit the offense knowingly or with the expectation that you know the document in your possession is fake.

It is a more serious offense than criminal impersonation, as it is a Class 4 felony offense. A conviction for forgery can result in almost four years in prison, a heftier court fine, and life-changing consequences. If the circumstances of your case qualify your crime as a dangerous felony, the judge could sentence you to eight years in prison.

The prosecutor can also charge you with a Class 3 felony, a more serious offense, if you falsify documents to rent, lease, or purchase a property.

Forgery and criminal impersonation are both fraud-related crimes. The prosecutor must demonstrate a fraudulent element for the court to deliver a guilty verdict.

Impersonating a Police/Peace Officer

The police and other peace officers serve the needs and interests of people directly. They are protected under the law and are allowed direct access to members of the public, including their homes and personal information. Impersonating police or peace officers is a grave crime that could result in lengthy prison time and a hefty court fine.

Under ARS 13-2411, it is a criminal offense to pretend to be a police or peace officer. You must not engage in any act that could make another person submit to your authority or rely on your pretense. The offense is a Class 6 felony, punishable by a maximum of two years in prison.

Find a Skilled Criminal Attorney Near Me

Do you or someone you love face criminal impersonation charges in Phoenix?

The law prohibits using a false identity or another person’s identity to obtain goods, services, or favors with the intent to defraud another person or organization. Doing so could result in a two-year prison sentence and a hefty court fine. But you can fight your charges with our help at Phoenix Criminal Attorney.

We have extensive experience handling fraud-related crimes. We also use the best fighting strategies to compel the judge to dismiss or reduce criminal charges. We can walk this challenging journey with you, protect your rights, and explain your options to help you make an informed decision. We can also protect your rights and work with you until you are happy with the outcome of your case. Call us at 602-551-8092 for more information about criminal impersonation and our services.

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