Impersonating Another Person Online is Now a Punishable Crime in California – Penal Code Section 528.5

By: Wallin & Klarich

To provide a 21st Century update to an 1872 law that criminalized impersonating another, Penal Code 528.5 was enacted after the legislature and the governor passed the bill in September 2010. The law will go into effect starting January 2011.

The new law was enacted to punish the act of intentionally impersonating someone else online for the purpose of fraud, intimidation, or to exact some sort of harm upon another. A person would be in violation of this new statute by using the name or personal information of another to open an email account or to create a profile on a social network like Facebook. Among the primary goals of the new law is to deter people from falsely creating accounts to post or send inflammatory photos or comments that would cause harm or embarrassment to the individual impersonated.

Impersonating another individual online is punishable as a misdemeanor offense that may bring with it a sentence of up to 1 year in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. The new law also permits victims to pursue civil claims against the impersonator for monetary relief.

To find more helpful information on the subject of online impersonations, click “Internet Crimes” under “Practice Areas” at

If you find yourself being charged of this new crime, it is essential that you seek the legal assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney who is current on the latest changes in the law. Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been keeping up with changes in the law for over 30 years and can help you raise the best possible defense in your case. Call us today at 888-749-0034 or visit us online at We will be there for you when you call.

Posted In: Internet Crimes