False Identification as Peace Officer; Misrepresentation of Property: Texas Penal Code §37.12

Texas Criminal Law

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The False Identification as Peace Officer; Misrepresentation of Property offense in Texas has two parts. As defined in subsection (a) of the statute, the Texas False Identification as Peace Officer law makes it illegal to make, provide to another person, or possess anything (including badges and vehicles) that bears an insignia of a law enforcement agency identifying a person as a peace officer or a reserve law enforcement officer when the person is not commissioned as a peace officer or reserve law enforcement officer as indicated on the item.

As defined in subsection (d) of the statute, the Texas Misrepresentation of Property law makes it illegal to intentionally or knowingly misrepresents an object (including a vehicle) as property belonging to a law enforcement agency.

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The Texas legislature codified this criminal offense in Texas Penal Code Section 37.12. The legislature did not update this law in 2023. In fact, this law has not been amended since 2017.

The Penal Code codifies the Texas False Identification as Peace Officer law under Title 8 “Offenses Against Public Administration,” Chapter 37 “Perjury and Other Falsifications.” Learn more about the Texas offense of False Identification as Peace Officer; Misrepresentation of Property below.

What is the current Texas law about False Identification as Peace Officer; Misrepresentation of Property?

The current Texas law defines the offense of False Identification as Peace Officer; Misrepresentation of Property in Penal Code Section §37.12 as follows:[1]

(a) A person commits an offense if:

(1) the person makes, provides to another person, or possesses a card, document, badge, insignia, shoulder emblem, or other item, including a vehicle, bearing an insignia of a law enforcement agency that identifies a person as a peace officer or a reserve law enforcement officer; and

(2) the person who makes, provides, or possesses the item bearing the insignia knows that the person so identified by the item is not commissioned as a peace officer or reserve law enforcement officer as indicated on the item.

(d) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly misrepresents an object, including a vehicle, as property belonging to a law enforcement agency. For purposes of this subsection, intentionally or knowingly misrepresenting an object as property belonging to a law enforcement agency includes intentionally or knowingly displaying an item bearing an insignia of a law enforcement agency in a manner that would lead a reasonable person to interpret the item as property belonging to a law enforcement agency.

Subsection (d) was added to the Penal Code in 1987 along with the words “Misrepresentation of Property” to the statute’s header after a semicolon such that the title of PC 37.12 is now “False Identification as a Peace Officer; Misrepresentation of Property.”[2]

There is precious little in the legislative commentary regarding that change, as the Texas legislature only noted before passing the bill for this crime into law, “[t]he importance of this legislation and the crowded condition of the calendars in both houses create an emergency and an imperative public necessity that the constitutional rule requiring bills to be read on three several days in each house be suspended, and this rule is hereby suspended.”

In 2017, the 85th Legislature added a list of items that qualify as “an item bearing an insignia of a law enforcement agency.”[3]

(c-1) For purposes of this section, an item bearing an insignia of a law enforcement agency includes an item that contains the word “police,” “sheriff,” “constable,” or “trooper.”

The 2017 legislature also added “intentionally or knowingly misrepresenting an object as property belonging to a law enforcement agency includes intentionally or knowingly displaying an item bearing an insignia of a law enforcement agency in a manner that would lead a reasonable person to interpret the item as property belonging to a law enforcement agency” to subsection (d).[4]

It is important to note that the misrepresentation be specifically that of an object as belonging to a law enforcement agency. No other misrepresentation will satisfy this offense. The other subsections of this statute cover other types of misrepresentations, but subsection (d) only deals with one specific kind of misrepresentation.

What is the statute of limitation for False Identification as Peace Officer in Texas?

As a misdemeanor, False Identification as Peace Officer charges have a two-year limitations period.[5]

What is the penalty for a Texas False Identification as Peace Officer offense?

Misrepresentation of Property is a Class B Misdemeanor, carrying a range of punishment of up to 180 days in county jail and up to a $2,000 fine. Learn more about the Range of Punishment for Texas crimes

Can you get probation for False Identification as Peace Officer in Texas?

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows both judges and juries to grant probation for False Identification as Peace Officer, and judges are also allowed to accept deferred adjudication plea deals.[6]

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.[7]

What level of crime is False Identification as Peace Officer in Texas?

The Penal Code classifies False Identification as Peace Officer as a Class B misdemeanor.

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


^1. Texas Penal Code §37.12. This law is current as of the 88th Legislature Regular Session.^2. See 1987 Tex. ALS 514, 1987 Tex. Gen. Laws 514, 1987 Tex. HB 592^3. Texas Penal Code Section 37.12(c-1), as enacted by HB 683, 85th Legislature, Section 3, effective September 1, 2017^4. HB 683, 85th Legislature, Section 3^5. See Code of Criminal Procedure 12.02(a)^6. See Chapter 42, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 42A.054, Art. 42A.056, Art. 42A.102 .^7. Art. 42A.054(b), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure

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