Penal Code Section 146c mandates misdemeanor punishment for any person who inaccurately names a non-governmental agency in a manner that suggests its membership is comprised largely with peace officers or firefighters.

False Use of Law Enforcement Term in Name of Nongovernmental Organization – Penal Code Section 146c

A person may be charged with a misdemeanor for naming a nongovernmental agency in such a manner that the name infers that its membership is comprised largely of police or fire personnel. You may be charged with a misdemeanor if you use the terms “peace officer, “police,” or “law enforcement” in the name of an organization where less than 80% of the voting members are current or retired police officers or firefighters.

You may also be convicted of a misdemeanor if, while knowing that the improperly named organization contains less than 80% firefighters or police officers, you do the following:

  • Solicit a person to become a member of the organization
  • Make a contribution to such an organization;
  • Subscribe to, or advertise in a publication of the organization;
  • Sell or give away any bade, pin, membership card, or other article indicating membership in the organization

Commentary:  This article is for information purposes only.  You should consult with an attorney if you are considering naming a nongovernmental organization with any designation that gives any hint of an affiliation with law enforcement.

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