Menu

Illinois Criminal Code of 1961

Article 17: False Personation; Solicitation Law in Illinois

Impersonating other people for personal gain can warrant criminal prosecution in Illinois. Any person who falsely impersonates a representative of any charitable, public safety, or veterans organization can be convicted of a crime, regardless of the reason for which they did so. In addition, it is also a crime to falsely represent oneself as a veteran in seeking employment or public office. Lastly, anyone claiming to represent any public officer of any type, such as a peace officer, a government employee, or a firefighter, can face criminal prosecution under this section of Illinois law. Depending on the nature of the crime, a conviction could carry up to a Class 1 felony status.

Need an Illinois criminal defense attorney? If you've been charged with false personation in Illinois, call our Chicago criminal defense attorneys today at (312) 466-9466 to discuss your case.

The text below comes from Article 17 of the Illinois Criminal Code of 1961. This law may have changed -- please read the important legal disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

Illinois Criminal Code of 1961 - Article 17

Sec. 17-2. False personation; use of title; solicitation; certain entities.
    (720 ILCS 5/17-2)

(a) A person commits a false personation when he or she falsely represents himself or herself to be a member or representative of any veterans' or public safety personnel organization or a representative of any charitable organization, or when any person exhibits or uses in any manner any decal, badge or insignia of any charitable, public safety personnel, or veterans' organization when not authorized to do so by the charitable, public safety personnel, or veterans' organization. "Public safety personnel organization" has the meaning ascribed to that term in Section 1 of the Solicitation for Charity Act.

(a-5) A person commits a false personation when he or she falsely represents himself or herself to be a veteran in seeking employment or public office. In this subsection, "veteran" means a person who has served in the Armed Services or Reserve Forces of the United States.

(a-6) A person commits a false personation when he or she falsely represents himself or herself to be a recipient of, or wears on his or her person, any of the following medals if that medal was not awarded to that person by the United States government, irrespective of branch of service: the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, the Air Force Cross, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, or the Purple Heart.

It is a defense to a prosecution under this subsection (a-6) that the medal is used, or is intended to be used, exclusively:

(1) for a dramatic presentation, such as a theatrical, film, or television production, or a historical re-enactment; or

(2) for a costume worn, or intended to be worn, by a person under 18 years of age.

(b) No person shall use the words "Chicago Police," "Chicago Police Department," "Chicago Patrolman," "Chicago Sergeant," "Chicago Lieutenant," "Chicago Peace Officer" or any other words to the same effect in the title of any organization, magazine, or other publication without the express approval of the Chicago Police Board.

(b-5) No person shall use the words "Cook County Sheriff's Police" or "Cook County Sheriff" or any other words to the same effect in the title of any organization, magazine, or other publication without the express approval of the office of the Cook County Sheriff's Merit Board. The references to names and titles in this Section may not be construed as authorizing use of the names and titles of other organizations or public safety personnel organizations otherwise prohibited by this Section or the Solicitation for Charity Act.

(b-10) No person may use, in the title of any organization, magazine, or other publication, the words "officer", "peace officer", "police", "law enforcement", "trooper", "sheriff", "deputy", "deputy sheriff", or "state police" in combination with the name of any state, state agency, public university, or unit of local government without the express written authorization of that state, state agency, or unit of local government.

(c) (Blank).

(c-1) No person may claim or represent that he or she is acting on behalf of any police department, chief of a police department, fire department, chief of a fire department, sheriff's department, or sheriff when soliciting financial contributions or selling or delivering or offering to sell or deliver any merchandise, goods, services, memberships, or advertisements unless the chief of the police department, fire department, and the corporate or municipal authority thereof, or the sheriff has first entered into a written agreement with the person or with an organization with which the person is affiliated and the agreement permits the activity.

(c-2) No person, when soliciting financial contributions or selling or delivering or offering to sell or deliver any merchandise, goods, services, memberships, or advertisements may claim or represent that he or she is representing or acting on behalf of any nongovernmental organization by any name which includes "officer", "peace officer", "police", "law enforcement", "trooper", "sheriff", "deputy", "deputy sheriff", "State police", or any other word or words which would reasonably be understood to imply that the organization is composed of law enforcement personnel unless the person is actually representing or acting on behalf of the nongovernmental organization, and the nongovernmental organization is controlled by and governed by a membership of and represents a group or association of active duty peace officers, retired peace officers, or injured peace officers and before commencing the solicitation or the sale or the offers to sell any merchandise, goods, services, memberships, or advertisements, a written contract between the soliciting or selling person and the nongovernmental organization has been entered into.

(c-3) No person may solicit financial contributions or sell or deliver or offer to sell or deliver any merchandise, goods, services, memberships, or advertisements on behalf of a police, sheriff, or other law enforcement department unless that person is actually representing or acting on behalf of the department or governmental organization and has entered into a written contract with the police chief, or head of the law enforcement department, and the corporate or municipal authority thereof, or the sheriff, which specifies and states clearly and fully the purposes for which the proceeds of the solicitation, contribution, or sale will be used.

(c-4) No person, when soliciting financial contributions or selling or delivering or offering to sell or deliver any merchandise, goods, services, memberships, or advertisements, may claim or represent that he or she is representing or acting on behalf of any nongovernmental organization by any name which includes the term "fireman", "fire fighter", "paramedic", or any other word or words which would reasonably be understood to imply that the organization is composed of fire fighter or paramedic personnel unless the person is actually representing or acting on behalf of the nongovernmental organization, and the nongovernmental organization is controlled by and governed by a membership of and represents a group or association of active duty, retired, or injured fire fighters (for the purposes of this Section, "fire fighter" has the meaning ascribed to that term in Section 2 of the Illinois Fire Protection Training Act) or active duty, retired, or injured emergency medical technicians - ambulance, emergency medical technicians - intermediate, emergency medical technicians - paramedic, ambulance drivers, or other medical assistance or first aid personnel, and before commencing the solicitation or the sale or delivery or the offers to sell or deliver any merchandise, goods, services, memberships, or advertisements, a written contract between the soliciting or selling person and the nongovernmental organization has been entered into.

(c-5) No person may solicit financial contributions or sell or deliver or offer to sell or deliver any merchandise, goods, services, memberships, or advertisements on behalf of a department or departments of fire fighters unless that person is actually representing or acting on behalf of the department or departments and has entered into a written contract with the department chief and corporate or municipal authority thereof which specifies and states clearly and fully the purposes for which the proceeds of the solicitation, contribution, or sale will be used.

(c-6) No person may claim or represent that he or she is an airman, airline employee, airport employee, or contractor at an airport in order to obtain the uniform, identification card, license, or other identification paraphernalia of an airman, airline employee, airport employee, or contractor at an airport.

(d) Sentence. False personation, unapproved use of a name or title, or solicitation in violation of subsection (a), (b), (b-5), or (b-10) of this Section is a Class C misdemeanor. False personation in violation of subsections (a-5) and (c-6) is a Class A misdemeanor. False personation in violation of subsection (a-6) of this Section is a petty offense for which the offender shall be fined at least $100 and not exceeding $200. Engaging in any activity in violation of subsection (c-1), (c-2), (c-3), (c-4), or (c-5) of this Section is a Class 4 felony. (Source: P.A. 95-331, eff. 8-21-07; 96-328, eff. 8-11-09.)

Sec. 17-2.5. False academic degrees.
    (720 ILCS 5/17-2.5)

(a) It is unlawful for a person to knowingly manufacture or produce for profit or for sale a false academic degree, unless the degree explicitly states "for novelty purposes only".

(b) It is unlawful for a person to knowingly use a false academic degree for the purpose of obtaining employment or admission to an institution of higher learning or admission to an advanced degree program at an institution of higher learning or for the purpose of obtaining a promotion or higher compensation in employment.

(c) Sentence. A person who violates this Section is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

(d) In this Section:

"False academic degree" means a certificate, diploma, transcript, or other document purporting to be issued by an institution of higher learning or purporting to indicate that a person has completed an organized academic program of study at an institution of higher learning when the person has not completed the organized academic program of study indicated on the certificate, diploma, transcript, or other document.

"Institution of higher learning" means a public or private college, university, or community college located in the State of Illinois that is authorized by the Board of Higher Education or the Illinois Community College Board to issue post-secondary degrees, or a public or private college, university, or community college located anywhere in the United States that is or has been legally constituted to offer degrees and instruction in its state of origin or incorporation. (Source: P.A. 93-239, eff. 7-22-03.)

   Return to Illinois Criminal Code of 1961 Table of Contents

DISCLAIMER: These excerpts from the law are provided for reference purposes only. Visitors to our Chicago criminal defense lawyer website should be aware that Illinois criminal laws have been amended many times and that Illinois crime laws posted on this site may not be current. In addition, Illinois criminal case law defines precedents for legal determinations that are not defined in the original laws.

Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer - (312) 466-9466 

Chicago Office

900 W. Jackson Blvd.

Suite 5W

Chicago, IL 60607

Map & Contact Info