Aggravated Impersonation of Police Officer
In New South Wales it is an offence to pretend to be a police officer. A person can be charged if they do or say something that gives the impression that they are a police officer. The person can be charged with the more serious ‘aggravated’ offence, if they impersonate a police officer and do one of the things that police officers have the power to do. For example, if they pretend to be a police officer and arrest someone. The maximum penalty is 7 years imprisonment.
The Offence of Impersonation Of Police Officer
The aggravated offence of Impersonation of Police Officer is contained in s 546D(2) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and states:
(2) Aggravated offence A person who, with intent to deceive:
- impersonates a police officer, and
- purports to exercise a power or function as a police officer, is guilty of an offence.
What Actions Might Constitute Impersonation of Police Officer?
Common examples of the aggravated offence include:
- Putting sirens on the roof of your car and pulling someone over;
- Wearing a fake Police Uniform and directing traffic;
- Informing someone you are a police officer and asking them to submit to a strip search; or
- Showing someone a police badge and telling them that you are a police officer and that they are under arrest.
What The Police Must Prove
To convict you of the aggravated offence of Impersonation of Police Officer, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:
- That you did an act which gives people the impression that you are a Police Officer;
- That you did something which a police officer would normally do as part of their job or exercised a power that only police officers have; and
- That you intended to mislead or deceive people in doing so.
Possible defences for Impersonation of Police Officer
The most common ways to defend this charge are:
- To maintain your innocence if you did not commit the act;
- To argue that the act you did was not impersonating a police officer;
- To argue that you did not do something which a police officer has the power to do;
- To argue that you did not intend to deceive people;
- To argue that you impersonated a police officer purely for comedic or satirical purposes; or
- To raise necessity or duress as the reason for your conduct.
Which court will hear your matter?
The aggravated offence of impersonating a police officer is a Table 2 offence which means that it will be finalised in the Local Court unless the prosecutor elects to have it finalised in the District Court.
Home Detention: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 as a standalone order but may be imposed as a condition of an Intensive Corrections Order (ICO). Home detention is an alternative to full-time imprisonment. In effect the gaol sentence is served at your address rather than in a gaol. If you receive a sentence of home detention you will be strictly supervised and subject to electronic monitoring. Read more.
Intensive Corrections Order (ICO): This option has replaced periodic detention. The court can order you to comply with a number of conditions, such as attending counselling or treatment, not consuming alcohol, complying with a curfew and performing community service. Read more.
Suspended Sentence: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018. This is a jail sentence that is suspended upon you entering into a good behaviour bond. Provided the terms of the good behaviour bond are obeyed the jail sentence will not come into effect. A suspended sentence is only available for sentences of imprisonment of up to two years. Read more.
Community Service Order (CSO): As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 and replaced with a Community Corrections Order (CCO). This involves either unpaid work in the community at a place specified by probation and parole or attendance at a centre to undertake a course, such as anger management. In order to be eligible for a CSO you have to be assessed by an officer of the probation service as suitable to undertake the order. Read more.
Good Behaviour Bond: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 and replaced with a Community Corrections Order (CCO). This is an order of the court that requires you to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time. The court will impose conditions that you will have to obey during the term of the good behaviour bond. The maximum duration of a good behaviour bond is five years. Read more.
Community Corrections Orders (CCO): A CCO involves the standard conditions that an offender must not commit any offence and that the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the Community Corrections Orders (CCO). Additional conditions may be imposed at the discretion of the court, both at the time of sentence and subsequently upon application by a community corrections officer, juvenile justice officer or the offender. Read more.
Conditional Release Order (CRO): A CRO involves the standard conditions that an offender must not commit any offence and that the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the CRO. Read more.
Section 10 avoiding a criminal record. Normally, when you plead guilty to a criminal offence, the court imposes a penalty and records a conviction. If the court records a conviction, you will have a criminal record. However, if we can convince the court not to convict you, there will be no penalty of any type and no criminal record. In all criminal cases, the court has the discretion not to convict you, but to give you a Section 10 dismissal instead. Read more.