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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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Criminal Sale Of A Police Uniform

By Spodek Law Group | October 18, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 19, 2023)

Last Updated on: 19th October 2023, 02:20 pm


Criminal Sale of a Police Uniform

Selling or offering to sell a police uniform without authorization can lead to criminal charges in many states. This article provides an overview of laws related to the criminal sale of police uniforms, defenses that may apply, and the implications of a conviction.

Laws on Selling Police Uniforms

In New York, it is illegal to sell or offer to sell the uniform of any police officer according to Penal Law Section 190.27. This law makes it a Class A misdemeanor to sell or offer to sell a police uniform to someone who is not authorized to possess it[1]. A Class A misdemeanor carries up to a year in jail, probation, and/or a fine of up to $1,000[3].

The law applies to the sale of any part of a police uniform, including a badge, insignia, or other article of police clothing. Offering to sell police paraphernalia over the internet could violate the law even if no actual sale takes place[2].

New Jersey has also enacted laws to crack down on the unauthorized sale of police uniforms. A 2017 law proposed in the state would require businesses to verify that buyers are employed by a law enforcement agency before selling police uniforms or equipment[6]. This aims to prevent uniforms from falling into the wrong hands.

Other states like California have laws prohibiting unauthorized wearing of a police uniform, even if it was not illegally purchased. So both selling and wearing police uniforms without authorization may lead to criminal charges[4].


There are some potential defenses in criminal sale of police uniform cases:

  • You did not actually “sell” anything – For example, you may have been joking around or exaggerating in an online ad without intending to complete a sale.
  • You did not know the buyer was unauthorized – You may argue you attempted to verify they were a police officer before selling.
  • The uniform was for recreational purposes – Some states exempt theatrical costumes and uniforms for recreational use from prosecution.
  • You are authorized to resell uniforms – Some uniform suppliers or police equipment resellers may be authorized to conduct these sales.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can assess the specifics of your case and determine if any of these defenses may apply. They may also look for procedural problems or constitutional violations that could lead to evidence being suppressed or the case dismissed.

Implications of a Conviction

A conviction for criminal sale of a police uniform can result in:

  • Jail time and/or fines
  • A permanent criminal record
  • Difficulty finding future employment, especially in law enforcement
  • Loss of access to government benefits like public housing
  • Potential deportation for non-citizens

Given the serious consequences, fighting the charges is usually advisable. An attorney may be able to get charges reduced or dismissed through plea negotiations. They can also advise you on how best to avoid convictions through diversion programs, deferred prosecutions, or other alternatives to jail time.

Ethical and Safety Concerns

Laws restricting police uniform sales aim to address ethical and public safety issues including:

  • Impersonation – Police uniforms could help criminals impersonate officers and take advantage of that authority.
  • Devaluation – Widespread misuse of police uniforms could devalue and disrespect the profession.
  • Misrepresentation – Wearing a uniform could allow unqualified individuals to misrepresent themselves as police.
  • Public confusion – Citizens may be confused and unable to identify real law enforcement officers.

However, some argue these laws are overly broad. For example, film studios may need police uniforms for legitimate entertainment productions. Critics argue the laws should be more narrowly targeted to avoid limiting individual freedoms.

There are also concerns that restricting uniform sales will not prevent serious criminal impersonations. Sophisticated criminals could manufacture counterfeit uniforms. So the laws may be mostly symbolic, creating public assurance more than real impediments.

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