America’s war heroes are among the most venerated individuals in our society. But what happens if you try to impersonate them? In everyday language, this is sometimes referred to as “stolen valor.” It goes without saying that the general public looks down upon this behavior, but how is it viewed in the eyes of the law? Is impersonating a military officer illegal in Arizona? If so, what kinds of consequences might you face if charged with this crime?
You Could Face Felony Fraud Charges
The worst-case scenario for someone who impersonates a military officer is felony fraud charges. Many people choose to impersonate members of the military in order to benefit in some way. Usually, the benefits are of a financial nature. For example, military officers often get special deals, tax benefits, and certain freedoms.
In Arizona, you may be charged with criminal impersonation after impersonating a member of the military. As long as you assume someone else’s identity with the intent to defraud someone or gain access to property, you face a class 6 felony.
In addition, you need to consider the Stolen Valor Act of 2005. This law makes it illegal to wear any military decorations or medals. If you falsely claim that you have received these medals, you face a prison sentence of up to six months. If you lie about receiving the Medal of Honor, you face up to 12 months in prison. The original law did not take into account intent. This meant that it didn’t matter whether you intended to defraud anyone – you would still be charged with the crime regardless. However, the law was amended in 2013, and now you can only be guilty of this crime if you intended to commit fraud.
Examples of Impersonating a Member of the Military
In 2011, a man in Tucson was charged with seven felonies after impersonating a two-star general. He wore a uniform and managed to gain entry into Fort Huachuca Army post. Once inside, he went shopping at the fort’s commissary and purchased $62 worth of tax-free items.
In 2009, a man faced 13 felony charges after impersonating a highly-decorated Marine with multiple ribbons and military honors. Authorities stated that he used this false identity to get discounts on airline tickets. He also claimed that he was about to deploy to Iraq, which allowed him to postpone a court hearing for a DUI charge!
Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today
Don’t face any criminal charges without the help of a skilled Phoenix criminal attorney. If you need assistance with your case, reach out to us today at Blumberg & Associates for a consultation.