As of January 1, 2012, Illinois toughened its law against false impersonations.

In Illinois, it was already illegal to impersonate a police officer, firefighter, emergency management worker, veteran, parent/legal guardian or airplane pilot. (See related Post: “Impersonating Public Officials: Big Trouble.)

The new law is expanded to include impersonating ordinary people, not just those in special categories such as police officers. You may be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine if you falsely impersonate someone in order to defraud, injure, threaten, intimidate or obtain a benefit.

Also, under the new law, you don’t have to do your impersonating face to face. Pretending to be someone you’re not via a website or other electronic communication, such as texting, is a crime.

State Senator Ira Silverstein of Chicago introduced the updated law. State Senator Sid Matthias of Buffalo Grove, a sponsor, said the law would help address public safety issues created by advancing internet technologies.

While it was also already a crime to impersonate an attorney, a public official or employee, the new law allows a judge or jury to infer that you are guilty if you wore an official or employee’s badge or uniform or if you otherwise expressed that you were acting under a public agency’s approval when you were not.

If you are charged with False Personation, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. As with most criminal offenses, the State must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Did you have the intent required by the law? Maybe you were just playing a joke and did not mean to intimidate or defraud. Are the state’s witnesses prepared to testify? Even if the evidence is pretty clearly against you, an experienced attorney may be able to negotiate a better plea agreement than you might on your own.

As with any crime, do not discuss your case with the police or anyone else. Any statements you make can be used against you and may complicate your defense.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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