Fine Line Between Dressing-Up & Breaking the Law
Costume contests are one of the most beloved Halloween festivities, giving people the opportunity to dress up and show off. However, some people’s costumes are so realistic that others cannot tell whether they’re simply dressed up or not. Police officer costumes are among the most popular and realistic-looking outfits on the market, making it difficult to determine who is real and who is not.
While dressing up as a police officer or other public servant is not illegal, doing so with the intent to “play the part” rather than merely “dress the part” can get you in big trouble with the law. The last thing you need is your cop costume to land you in an unfavorable situation with real cops, therefore we encourage you to read the Texas statutes below to best avoid an unexpected arrest and subsequent criminal charges.
Impersonating a Public Servant Laws in Texas
A person commits the crime of impersonating a public servant if they:
- impersonate a public servant with intent to induce another to submit to the person's pretended official authority or to rely on the person's pretended official acts; or
- knowingly purport to exercise, without legal authority, any function of a public servant or of a public office, including that of a judge and court.
If convicted of this third-degree felony, you may face 2 to 10 years in prison and/or $10,000 fines. For context, "public servant" means a person elected, selected, appointed, employed, or otherwise designated as one of the following, even they have not yet qualified for office or assumed their duties:
- an officer, employee, or agent of the government
- a juror or grand juror
- an arbitrator, referee, or another person who is authorized by law or private written agreement to hear or determine a cause or controversy
- an attorney at law or notary public when participating in the performance of a governmental function
- a candidate for nomination or election to public office
- a person who is performing a governmental function under a claim of right although they are not legally qualified to do so
With this in mind, prosecutors must prove that you intended to convince people that you were a real police officer with real authority. Even if you dressed up as President Trump, the “Notorious RBG” (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) or another well-known public servant for Halloween, you are not breaking the law as long as you don’t intentionally persuade others to obey your fake authority.
Don’t Let a Criminal Record Haunt You
Believe it or not, police officers can feel angered rather than flattered if they believe you are committing the offense of impersonating a public servant. There is a fine line between dressing up and falsely assuming the role of a cop, and if you cross that line, you could go to jail.
Peter Barrett will work tirelessly to help protect you from suffering legal charges and penalties for a crime you didn’t intend to commit. Our goal is to minimize the impacts of your case as much as possible. As such, you should contact us at (214) 307-8667 to discuss your situation right away!