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Police Forum Police Head Mod: Skidmark
Questions & info about the Motor Vehicle Act. Mature discussion only.

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Old 08-28-2010, 04:53 AM   #1
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Civilian in Police uniform

From time to time I have these weird hypothetical law questions (I should really befriend a lawyer). This time I was wondering if a person wearing a police uniform was attacked by a civilian, would the attacker be charged with regular assault or assault on a police officer?


Let's keep this on topic and not get into the question of why the civilian was wearing a police officers uniform to begin with. FYI, I thought of this idea when recalling that if an undercover officer is assaulted before he identifies himself as an officer, then the attacker would only be charged with regular assault, and not assaulting a police officer.
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Old 08-28-2010, 06:44 AM   #2
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It would be regular simple assault, aggravated, etc because the person is not in fact a peace officer. The person wearing the uniform would likely be in trouble for impersonating an officer as well.

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Old 08-28-2010, 10:53 AM   #3
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That would be like getting charged for attempt murder after stabbing a mannequin and thinking it was a real person. The intent is there but stabbing a mannequin would be mischief, not attempt murder because that wouldnt have been possible in the first place.

For someone to get convicted of Assault PO the PO has to in fact be a PO, the PO has to be in the legal execution of his duty (more than just being "on duty"), and it must be reasonably known to the offender that the PO is a PO.
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Old 08-30-2010, 09:13 AM   #4
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I would hope that it was elevated to assault on a police officer. The victim was dressed like a police officer and therefore the assailant likely had every intent to attack a police officer.
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Old 08-30-2010, 09:18 AM   #5
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^ that's where it would be tricky though, because it's hard to tell whether or not the assailant correctly figured out that the civilian was not actually a police officer prior to attacking.
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Old 08-30-2010, 10:46 AM   #6
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I would hope that it was elevated to assault on a police officer. The victim was dressed like a police officer and therefore the assailant likely had every intent to attack a police officer.
Terrible logic.

It doesn't matter if he thought it was a police officer or not. The fact of the matter is it ISN'T a police officer, so you cannot possibly be charged with assault on a police officer.

Let's go one further with ninjatune's example. What if there was a mannequin dressed as a police officer. If someone attacked it, should they be charged with assault on a police officer as well? By your reasoning, the assailant thought he was attacking a police officer.
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Old 08-30-2010, 10:59 AM   #7
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No, if someone stabbed a mannequin it means they probably intended to stab a mannequin.

A civilian dressed as a cop looks like a cop.

If you are attacking this person, you are attacking someone you believe to be a cop. Therefore you intended to attack a cop, you attacked someone you believed to be a cop and you should be charged as such.

A mannequin looks like a mannequin and anyone stabbing it thinking it was human needs to be locked up in the loony bin.
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Old 09-01-2010, 09:12 AM   #8
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No, if someone stabbed a mannequin it means they probably intended to stab a mannequin.

A civilian dressed as a cop looks like a cop.

If you are attacking this person, you are attacking someone you believe to be a cop. Therefore you intended to attack a cop, you attacked someone you believed to be a cop and you should be charged as such.

A mannequin looks like a mannequin and anyone stabbing it thinking it was human needs to be locked up in the loony bin.
This is why we have judges and court. If the assailant truly believed the civilian is a police officer, then I would think that he would be charged to assault of an officer.

But because there will be a trial, and the judge will find out that the civilian is in fact not a police officer, then it would probably just be an assault charge.

If you threaten to kill someone, does that mean you should be charged with murder because you have the intention of killing him?

This is all just my opinion.
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Old 09-01-2010, 07:03 PM   #9
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Let`s make this simple...you only assault a PO, when you actually assault an actual PO.
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Old 09-02-2010, 02:24 PM   #10
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Let`s make this simple...you only assault a PO, when you actually assault an actual PO.
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Old 09-02-2010, 07:48 PM   #11
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What if you shoot somebody and they live. How can you be charged with attempted murder? You could claim you should be charged with assault and never intended to kil the other person, only wound him.

Here it's a case of what was the intent of the person. It would be very difficult for the person doing the shooting to claim they weren't trying to kill the other person. I mean, seriously, what would be the reason to shoot someone if not to kill?


Although the civilian may not be a PO, the person attacking them wouldn't know. If they assaulted them believing they were PO then I think they should suffer a stricter penalty, since it was their intent to assault a PO.

A judge probably wouldn't find them guilty of assaulting a PO, but I bet they hand out a stiffer sentence regardless because of the intent.
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Old 09-03-2010, 12:51 AM   #12
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^ but again, you'd still have to prove that they didn't know it was only a civilian (and believed it to be a PO).
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Old 09-03-2010, 02:41 PM   #13
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My guess is that most assaults happen during the heat of the moment. If the person you assaulted happens to be a PO, you will be charged with assaulting a PO, regardless of whether you knew the victim was a PO or not.

If you intend to assault someone - why would it matter if your target was a PO or not? Would you decide not to if you knew the target was a PO?
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