Penal Code Section 148.9 – Providing False Identification to a Peace Officer

Elements of the Offense – Penal Code Section 148.9(a)1

The prosecutor must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The Defendant falsely identified or represented himself as another person or a fictitious person to a peace officer; AND
  2. The Defendant was lawfully detained or arrested at the time he made the false identification or representation;2 AND
  3. The peace officer was lawfully engaged in the performance of his or her duties; AND
  4. The Defendant knowingly misrepresented his identity3; AND
  5. The Defendant knew or should have known that the person receiving the false information was a peace officer.


Section 148.9 violations are punishable by up to six months in a county jail.  Because the offense involves lying, the crime is deemed an act of “moral turpitude.”


The author is a former supervising prosecutor in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.  Section 148.9 violations are often aggressively prosecuted in Ventura County, particularly if they result in the false arrest of another person.  If you are suspected of committing a Section 148.9 violation, contact a competent criminal defense attorney at your earliest convenience.

Attorney William Haney

Notes / Sources Cited:

1 Blog article last amended May 11, 2018. This blog is for informational purposes only. If you are suspected or arrested for a 148.9 violation, you should contact a competent criminal defense attorney of your choosing immediately.

2 Section 148.9(a) could not be used against a juvenile who falsely identified himself during a “consensual” encounter because he was not arrested or detained. (In re Voeurn O. (App. 4 Dist. 1995) 35 Cal.App.4th 793.
3 To convict a defendant under the statute, the prosecutor does not need to show that the individual had a specific intent to obtain a benefit or cause another to be liable on his behalf; rather; the prosecutor need only establish general intent . . . that the defendant intended to do the act which forms the basis of the crime . . . .” (Blanco v. Mukasey (2008) 518 F.3d 714, 718-719) Thus, a conviction under California Penal Code Section 148.9(a) requires a showing that the individual knowingly misrepresented his or her identity to a peace officer, but does not require that the individual thereby knowingly attempted to obtain anything of value.” (Mukasey, 518 F.3d at 719.)