Justia Lawyer Rating
Best Lawyer
Super Lawyer - Top 100
Super Lawyer - Top 100
Best Lawyers
Avvo Rating 10.0
AV Preeminent
The National Trial Lawyers
The Best Lawyers in America
Best Lawyers
Advocates for Justice
Business North Carolina Legal Elite - 2021
DUI Defense
*For additional information regarding the criterion for inclusion or membership for lawyer associations, awards, & certifications click image for link.

North Carolina Criminal Law 14-277(a): Misdemeanor Impersonation of Law-Enforcement Officer

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

Misdemeanor Impersonation of Law-Enforcement Officer Under North Carolina Criminal Law 14-277(a), Impersonation of a Law Enforcement Officer is a misdemeanor criminal offense whereby the defendant allegedly falsely communicates to another person that he or she is a law enforcement officer by verbal communication, use of false identification, or use of a vehicle with red lights or blue lights.

The key difference between misdemeanor and felony impersonation of a law enforcement officer is that the defendant must use blue lights for the criminal offense to be a felony charge.

In order to convict a Defendant of Misdemeanor Impersonation of Law Enforcement Officer under 14-277(a), the Assistant District Attorney must prove things like:

  1. The Defendant is not a law enforcement officer or “other public officer”
  2. The Defendant represents or portrays him or herself to be a law enforcement officer to another person
  3. By telling another person, using a badge/police identification, or using a vehicle with flashing red lights
  4. Unlawfully operates, on a public vehicular area, street, or highway, a motor vehicle using a flashing red light

The Defendant does not have to refer to a specific law enforcement agency to be charged with the offense.

2. Examples of Impersonation of a Law Enforcement Officer

Defendant is driving his personal vehicle, a grey in color Dodge Charger, on I-77 near the intersection of I-485 in Charlotte, NC. He pulls behind another car on the highway and activates a flashing red light placed on his dashboard. There are no police markings on the Defendant’s vehicle. There are also no Fire, Medic, or any other official markings on the Defendant’s car. In response to a siren and the flashing red light, the other motorist pulls over believing the Defendant to be a police officer. A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer sees the two vehicles on the side of the road, knowing all emergency vehicles with flashing red lights in Mecklenburg County also have other markings on the side, front, and back of the respective emergency vehicles. The CMPD officer writes in his arrest narrative, “The cars were not in a safe place in the side of the highway. The flashing red light could not be seen by traffic approaching from the rear. There also have been a series of complaints in the vicinity of Arrowood Road, Westinghouse Boulevard, and South Charlotte regarding an unmarked gray Dodge Charger with flashing red lights pulling over motorists and warning them about speeding.” Upon further investigation, the police officer arrests the Defendant and transports him to the Mecklenburg Count Jail. It is later determined the Defendant has previously applied to be a volunteer fire-fighter for Pineville Fire Department. Due to a prior criminal record, Defendant’s application to volunteer has been repeatedly rejected. The Defendant may be charged with Impersonation of a Law Enforcement Officer, a Class I Misdemeanor offense.

The Defendant is driving a dark colored sedan and sees another motorist speeding at a high rate of speed on I-85 North on the Mecklenburg / Cabarrus County line. He calls 911 advising, “Requesting back-up on a citizen’s arrest, reckless driving in Mecklenburg.” The Defendant advises CMPD Dispatch of his location and direction of travel. The Defendant also turns on a flashing blue LED light he purchased on eBay and places it on his dashboard. NC State Highway Patrol Officers engage in a high-speed pursuit exceeding 100 m.p.h. a times, stopping the “suspect vehicle” as well as the Defendant. Defendant exits the vehicle, drawing a gun, and flashes a “Citizens Public Safety Officer” badge he bought on-line to NC SHP officers. Troopers immediately confirm the Defendant is not a sworn law enforcement officer and arrest him. The Defendant is charged with Felony Impersonation of a Law Enforcement Officer, reckless driving, speeding in excess of the posted speed limit, and Resisting / Obstructing a Law Enforcement Officer in Mecklenburg County and is later indicted for felony and misdemeanor charges in Charlotte. If convicted of speeding of 100 m.p.h. the NC DMV may also revoke the Defendant’s NC Driver’s License.

3. Related Offenses

Other related crimes offenses include:

  1. Failure to Stop for Blue Light and Siren
  2. Unauthorized Use of a Conveyance
  3. Failure to Stop for Blue Light and Siren
  4. Felony Identity Theft
  5. North Carolina General Statute 14-277
4. Defenses to Impersonation of a Law Enforcement Officer

Misdemeanor Impersonation of Law-Enforcement Officer Applicable defenses and strategies can differ for each case and fact pattern. However, a Defendant may be able to challenge a case for Impersonation of a Law Enforcement Officer with defenses such as mistake of fact, mistaken identity (falsely accused), or if the Defendant is in fact a sworn law enforcement officer.

5. Penalties and Punishment for Impersonation of a Law Enforcement Officer

Impersonation of a Law Enforcement Officer is a Class 1 Misdemeanor offense under North Carolina Criminal Law 14-277(a)(1)-(3). Conviction of a Class 1 Misdemeanor carries a maximum punishment of up to 120 days in jail.

Applicable punishments often depend the Defendant’s Prior Record Level and the nature and circumstances of the allegations.

However, it is important to note that use of a car with flashing blue lights will elevate this offense to a Class I Felony, under 14-277(a)(4). A Class I Felony carries a maximum punishment of up to 24 months in jail.

6. Legal Counsel for Impersonation of a Law Enforcement Officer

Impersonation of Law Enforcement Officer cases are prosecuted vigorously in North Carolina. If you are facing a criminal charge for allegedly impersonating law enforcement or improperly holding yourself out as emergency personnel, it’s important to retain a criminal attorney to represent you immediately.

To learn more about our team of attorneys, CALL NOW 704-342-4357. Powers Law Firm provides free, confidential consultations for criminal charges in Charlotte area and surrounding counties of Union County NC, Iredell County, Gaston County, and Rowan County, North Carolina.

Client Reviews
I am so fortunate to have had Bill Powers on my case. Upon our first meeting, Bill insisted that through the emotions of anger, sadness, confusion, and betrayal that I remain resilient. He was available to answer questions with researched, logical, truthful answers throughout our two year stretch together. I went to any lengths for my case because he won my trust almost immediately... J.R.
My daughter had a second DUI and when it all seemed hopeless, Bill was able to get the charges dropped. This is a man who is extremely knowledgeable, yet still keeps his integrity which was impressive to me. He handles himself with dignity. If you hire him, you will have the best of the best, along with his expansive intellect and wisdom about the law. Lisa
Bill Powers’ staff has handled several traffic citations for me over the years, and they exceeded my expectations each and every time. Would highly recommend anyone faced with a traffic citation or court case contact his office and they will handle it from there. M.C.
Bill and his staff are flat out great. I (unfortunately) was a repeat customer after a string of tickets. These guys not only took care of the initial ticket for me, but went the extra mile and reduced my problems from 3 to just 1 (very minor one) on the same day I called back! I would recommend them to anyone. A.R.