New Minnesota Law Makes Impersonating Military Members a Misdemeanor

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The penalties for individuals who impersonate law enforcement officers are now much tougher in the state of Minnesota due to a new law. Groups responsible for gathering statistics have decided the current number of individuals who impersonate military members to be an epidemic. There are several reasons why individuals choose to pose as members of the military or exaggerate their service records. These reasons include attempts to obtain direct gains from employers or sympathetic audiences.

The Unique Elements of This Law

Previously, state law made it a crime to impersonate a military officer but not an enlisted service member or a veteran. The recent law holds that any individual who obtains money, property, or any other type of benefit by impersonating any type of military member will be convicted of a gross misdemeanor. Other types of actions besides obtaining benefits also constitute misdemeanors, including directing other individuals to do something, driving a vehicle disguised as an official law enforcement vehicle, or pretending to be a police officer to get into a building. If a person is convicted of a second similar offense within five years, that person can potentially face more severe penalties. In addition to these state laws, there are several federal laws that prohibit impersonating a military officer. The Stolen Valor Act of 2013 is a series of federal laws that prohibit individuals obtaining military awards with the intention to deceive others to obtain money or other benefits.

Motivation in Creating the Law

This law is one of the several measures that took effect in Minnesota on August 1, 2017, and represent an effort to increase violations monitored by law enforcement. Statistics reveal that an increasing number individuals in Minnesota are attempting to impersonate military members or veterans to get hired for jobs or earn benefits. The FBI estimates that for every real Navy SEAL, there are approximately 250 imposters. Additionally, there are thousands of cases involving fraudulent military personnel each year. One of the best ways to determine if a person’s military accolades are legitimate is to visit the Defense Department’s website to determine which service members received top military awards. In many cases, military imposters are caught as the result of inconsistencies or mistakes in their own personal stories.

Charges of Impersonating a Police Officer

Similar to charges of impersonating a military officer are cases in which a person impersonates a law enforcement officer. In many cases, individuals impersonate law enforcement officers to make an illegal act look legitimate. Some of the various ways in which individuals impersonate law enforcement officers are verbally informing others that they are a police officer, using fake identification, or driving a vehicle disguised to look like it belongs to law enforcement.

Contact a Seasoned Attorney

If you are charged with impersonating a military member or police officer, it can be beneficial to obtain the assistance of a skilled attorney. Do not hesitate to contact the law firm of O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Attorneys online or by calling 701-235-8000 or toll-free 877-235-8002.