Impersonating Public Servant: Texas Penal Code §37.11

Texas Criminal Law

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The Texas Impersonating Public Servant law gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you pretended to be a public servant (for instance, a judge) and you did this in order to get someone to obey your pretend authority.

In addition, the law forbids people from acting as if they have the authority of a public servant or a public office (such as a judge or a court), even though they do not have the legal right or authorization to do so

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The Texas legislature codified this criminal offense in Texas Penal Code Section 37.11. The law was not amended in 2023. However, the law was most recently amended in 2019.

The Penal Code classifies the Texas Impersonating Public Servant law under Title 8 “Offenses Against Public Administration,” Chapter 37 “Perjury and Other Falsifications.” Learn more about the Texas offense of Impersonating Public Servant below.

What is the current Texas law about Impersonating Public Servant?

The current Texas law defines the offense of Impersonating Public Servant in Penal Code Section §37.11 as follows:[1]

(a) A person commits an offense if the person:

(1) impersonates 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

(2) knowingly purports to exercise, without legal authority, any function of a public servant or of a public office, including that of a judge and court.

Amendments effective in 2019

The Texas legislature updated this law in 2019. In addition to some nonsubstantive gender-neutralization re-wording in subsection (a)(1), a more substantive change was made to subdivision (a)(2). Prior to these changes, subdivision (a)(2) was in effect as follows:[2]

(2) knowingly purports to exercise any function of a public servant or of a public office, including that of a judge and court, and the position or office through which he purports to exercise a function of a public servant or public office has no lawful existence under the constitution or laws of this state or of the United States.

How can I be charged with an Impersonating Public Servant offense in Texas?

You can be charged with Impersonating Public Servant in Texas if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 37.11(a) as described in the section above have been met.

What is the statute of limitation for Impersonating Public Servant in Texas?

Impersonating Public Servant offenses have a three-year limitations period.[3]

What is the penalty for a Texas Impersonating Public Servant offense?

A conviction for Impersonating Public Servant in Texas is punished as a Third Degree Felony,[4] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $10,000 and prison time of up to 10 years. Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors here.

Can you get probation for Impersonating Public Servant in Texas?

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows both judges and juries to grant probation for Impersonating Public Servant, and judges are also allowed to accept deferred adjudication plea deals.[5]

Note, however, that judges may not grant community supervision after a conviction if (1) the defendant used or exhibited a deadly weapon during the commission of the felony or immediate flight thereafter and (2) the defendant used or exhibited the deadly weapon himself or was a party to the offense and knew that a deadly weapon would be used or exhibited.[6]

What level of crime is Impersonating Public Servant in Texas?

The Penal Code classifies Impersonating Public Servant as a third degree felony.

Learn more about the penalty range for this offense in the section above.


^1. Texas Penal Code §37.11. This law is current as of the 88th Legislature Regular Session.^2. See SB 1820, 86th Texas Legislature (RS), Section 1^3. See Code of Criminal Procedure 12.01(9)^4. Texas Penal Code §37.11(b)^5. See Chapter 42, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 42A.054, Art. 42A.056, Art. 42A.102 .^6. Art. 42A.054(b), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure

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