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Penal Code 185 PC – Wearing a Mask or Disguise to Evade Police

July 13, 2021 California Penal Code

The California statute Penal Code 185 PC makes it illegal to use a mask or disguise to elude authorities after committing a crime. A misdemeanor conviction Akikos a penalty of up to 6 months in prison and penalties of up to $1000.00.

It’s also illegal to use a mask to flee after being charged with, arrested for, or convicted of a crime, according to the law.

California Penal Code 185 PC states that “it shall be unlawful for any person to wear any mask, false whiskers, or any personal disguise (whether complete or partial) for the purpose of [either] evading… in the commission of any public offense, [or] Concealment, flight, or escape, when charged with, arrested for, or convicted of, any public offense.”

Some Examples of acts that constitute a violation of in 185 PC

  • theft and then putting on a wig outside the business 
  • eluding the officers after an arrest and then wearing a mask to evade detection 
  • trespassing and then putting on dark sunglasses to “shale” the cops

Best Defenses to a Charge of Wearing a Mask or Disguise to Evade Police

Several defense strategies are common with this charge. Some defenses include the accused showing With this charge, there are several popular defensive methods. 

The accused must demonstrate that the defendant had no criminal intent, that there was no underlying wrongdoing, and that there was no mask or disguise.

Penalties on Conviction of a Charge of Wearing a Mask or Disguise to Evade Police

It is a misdemeanor to break this statute. This is in contrast to a felony or an infraction in California.

The following penalties apply up to six months in county jail and/or a maximum fine of $1,000.

In lieu of jail time, a court can grant misdemeanor (or summary) probation.

The California criminal defense attorneys at Spodek Law Group will answer the following key questions in this article:

1. Under what circumstances is it a crime to wear a mask to avoid apprehension?

2. What strong legal defenses are there to a Penal Code 185 PC charge?

3. What are the penalties for violating Penal Code 185 PC?

4. Can a person get this conviction expunged from their record?

5. Are there related offenses to this crime?

1. Under what circumstances is it a crime to wear a mask to avoid apprehension?

To convict someone under this statute, a prosecutor must show the following:

  1. the defendant wore a mask, fake whiskers, or any other form of personal disguise, and 
  2. the defendant did so to either: 
    1. evade or escape detection after committing a crime, or
    2. hide or flee after being charged with, arrested for, or convicted of an offense.

Example: Akiko shoplifts an expensive scarf while shopping at a department store, a crime per Penal Code For example, when shopping at a department store, Akiko shoplifts a costly scarf, which is a crime under Penal Code 459.5. She believes the store’s security cameras may have caught her on tape.  In the hopes of eluding the cops after leaving the store, she dons a wig and dark sunglasses from her backpack.

After committing a crime, Akiko used a disguise to try to elude the cops. PC 185 holds her responsible.

It’s worth noting that “false whiskers” refers to things like a fake mustache or beard.

2. What strong legal defenses are there to a Penal Code 185 PC charge?

When defending against allegations brought under these statutes, defense lawyers employ a variety of legal methods.

The “No criminal intent” defense

A person is only guilty of this crime if he or she behaved with the aim to elude police or escape detection by police.

This means that claiming that someone accused did not have this intent is a permissible defense. Perhaps the defendant wore a mask for the sake of amusement because it was Halloween.

The “No underlying crime” defense

A person can only commit this crime if he or she has already committed another crime. As a result, a defendant’s defense is to claim that there was no other offense.

For instance, police discover Chelsea wearing a mask while prowling around her neighborhood. It isn’t Halloween, and there aren’t any other people dressed up in masks or disguises. However, the officers apprehend her and charge her with violating Penal Code 185.

Chelsea is not guilty under the law in this case. She wasn’t wearing the mask to hide from the cops after committing a crime. Because Chelsea did not commit an underlying offense, there is no guilt.

The “No mask or disguise” defense

Remember that under this statute, an accused can only be found guilty if he wore a mask, false whiskers, or a disguise.

This language is used specifically in PC 185. As a result, a defendant can demonstrate his innocence by claiming that he did not possess one of these items.

For example, someone accused may have attempted to outrun the cops or elude them by sliding through alleyways.

Both are attempts to avoid detection or escape without the use of a mask or disguise.

3. What are the penalties for violating Penal Code 185 PC?

It is a misdemeanor to break this statute.

The offense is punishable by up to six months in county imprisonment (rather than state prison), as well as a maximum fine of $1,000.

4. Can a person get this conviction expunged from their record?

If you are convicted under these statutes, you may be eligible for an expungement.

If a guilty party successfully completes probation or his jail term, whichever was imposed, a judge will grant expungement.

An expungement is advantageous because it removes many of the negative consequences of a conviction.

5. Are there related offenses to this crime?

Wearing a mask or disguise to elude the police is illegal in three ways. These are the following:

  1. resisting arrest – CALIFORNIA PC 148,
  2. false identification to a police officer – CALIFORNIA PC 148.9, and
  3. Robbery – CALIFORNIA PC 211.

For extra assistance…

Spodek Law Group invites you to contact us for more information or to speak with a criminal defense attorney about your case.

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