Is it illegal to impersonate someone in California?

Asked by: Khalid Goodwin  |  Last update: November 27, 2023
Score: 5/5 (30 votes)

California Penal Code 529 defines the crime of false Impersonation as using someone's name or identity to cause them to harm or to gain an advantage unlawfully. This statute is also commonly known as “false personation.” Put simply, it's illegal to pretend you are someone else to gain some benefit.

Can you go to jail for acting like someone else?


If convicted of false impersonation as a misdemeanor, a defendant can be sentenced to up to a year in jail and substantial court fines. If convicted of felony charges, the maximum sentence is three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Is it illegal to impersonate someone online in California?

Impersonating Someone Online To Harm Or Defraud – California Penal Code § 528.5. It is illegal to impersonate another person online either to buy some sort of a social media posting account like a Facebook account or some email with the intent to do some sort of harm to that person or defraud another person.

Is pretending to be someone else illegal over text?

A: Under California law, it is illegal to impersonate another person with the intent to harm, intimidate, threaten, or defraud that person. This includes impersonating someone else through text message or other forms of electronic communication.

Can you go to jail for impersonating someone on social media?

Legal Consequences

A fake social media account, on a website like Twitter or Facebook, could result in legal action against the impersonator in terms of either civil or criminal law. However, this presupposes that one is able to ascertain the true identity of the impersonator. This is not often easy.

Is Impersonating Someone Online a Crime? Really?

34 related questions found

Is it illegal to pretend to be someone who doesn t exist?

While pretending to be someone you are not is not inherently a crime, the criminal offense of fraud or coercion is possible and likely depending on the actions committed.

Is it illegal to pretend to be a fake person?

If you falsely represent yourself as someone who you aren't, you could be charged with a criminal offense. In certain circumstances, false personification could actually result in federal criminal charges.

What can I do if someone is impersonating me?

Presuming your account hasn't been hacked, there are several things you can do.
  1. Report the fake account. It seems obvious, but this is the first port of call. ...
  2. Post about it. ...
  3. Report any libel content or thefts correctly. ...
  4. Don't make prolonged contact with the impersonator. ...
  5. Take precautions to prevent future impersonations.

Can you sue someone for pretending to be you on social media?

If an abuser has impersonated someone else to share information that places you in a false light, you may be able to sue in civil court for money damages. Generally, even if the information published about you is not necessarily false but is misleading and offensive, a false light claim may apply.

Is it illegal to pretend to be someone else on social media?

The eight states that have explicit social media impersonation laws are California, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington, Louisiana, Mississippi and Wyoming. In Oklahoma and Washington, impersonating someone on social media is a civil violation, meaning the impersonator could be sued by their victim.

Is cyberstalking illegal in California?

However, cyberstalking has a very real and serious side. In some cases, the behavior can turn malicious and create fear, intimidation, and other negative feelings in the person it is targeted against. California prohibits this conduct under its stalking laws and imposes harsh penalties upon anyone convicted.

How do I prove cyberstalking in California?

For an Orange County court to convict you of cyberstalking, your accuser must prove the following:
  1. You willfully harassed the accuser.
  2. You maliciously harassed the accuser.
  3. You made a credible threat intended to cause your accuser to fear for their or their family's safety.

What is the penalty for cyberstalking in California?

Penalties for cyberstalking in California

Misdemeanor cyberstalking could result in one year of jail time plus a fine of up to $1000. A felony charge of cyberstalking could result in a sentence of five years in a state prison plus fines of up to $1,000.

What happens if someone pretends to be someone else?

While it may seem harmless to impersonate another person, the law does not always look so kindly on this type of behavior. In fact, depending upon the circumstances of the impersonation, criminal charges may be filed for pretending to be anyone, not just a public figure or member of law enforcement.

What is it called when someone pretends to be someone else online?

Generally speaking, catfishing takes place when an online fraudster builds a relationship with their victim over time in an online setting while pretending to be someone else. This can be done either by using another person's photograph and personal information or by simply fabricating a fake persona.

What is the legal term for pretending to be someone else?

Personation (rather than impersonation) is a primarily-legal term, meaning 'to assume the identity of another person with intent to deceive'. It is often used for the kind of voter fraud where an individual votes in an election, whilst pretending to be a different elector.

Can you go to jail for making a fake Facebook account?

Harassment or terror: If you created a fake social media account to threaten to harm or hurt other people, you could face criminal charges in California and elsewhere in the U.S. Even if you spread terror or harass other people using someone else's name on the Internet, it will not take long until authorities find out ...

Can I sue someone for spreading lies about me?

A slander lawsuit is a lawsuit you can file after someone defames you. Defamation occurs when someone makes a false statement of fact to a third party and causes you harm as a result. Defamation is a tort, which means it is a civil wrong, so you can file suit to obtain monetary damages from the person who committed it.

Is it illegal to pretend to be a girl online?

Representing yourself differently online than in real life isn't illegal. And unfortunately, there's not a lot of recourse when the person you're talking to turns out to be a catfish. However, there are situations where catfishing can lead to legal issues or even criminal charges.

What does it mean when someone is impersonating you?

to intentionally copy another person's characteristics, such as their behavior, speech, appearance, or expressions, especially to make people laugh: She's the woman who impersonates all the celebrities on TV.

Why would someone impersonate me?

This is meant sometimes to create smearing campaigns, misleading information, social engineering, or stealing one's identity in order to create noise, trust issues, and data breaches that impact the reputation of the individuals and collectives being impersonated.

Is identity theft an impersonation?

Identity theft involves the theft of your personal information or your business's private data in order to gain access to your financial details. Impersonation is more simply the act of someone pretending to be an individual or a business.

Is false identity a crime?

However providing False Identification to a Police Officer is a crime under California Penal Code Section 148.9 PC that could have long-lasting consequences for the defendant. False Identification to a Police Officer requires the following elements: That a person knowingly and intentionally.

What is the crime of fake identity?

False identity fraud occurs when a person creates a fake identity to commit criminal activities. Fraudsters commit identity fraud to apply for credit under false information, submit for loans or open bank accounts.

What is pretending to be someone you're not called?

An imposter is a person who pretends to be someone else. Someone who tries to convince you that he's your long lost cousin in order to get an invitation to stay in your awesome apartment is an imposter.