California Penal Code Section 185 PC: Wearing Mask Or Disguise To Evade Police

1. Definition and Elements of the Crimepolice evasion

While wearing masks or disguises is not usually illegal, if someone wears a mask or disguise to avoid being detected by the police he or she could be charged with a criminal offense. Under California Penal Code Section 185 PC, it is unlawful to wear a mask or disguise in order to evade the police.

To prove that a defendant is guilty of wearing a mask or disguise to evade the police, a prosecutor must be able to prove the following elements:

  1. The defendant wore a mask, false whiskers, or any personal disguise
  2. The defendant evaded or escaped discovery, recognition or identification
  3. AND the defendant was in the commission of a public offense.

OR:

  1. The defendant wore a mask, false whiskers, or any personal disguise
  2. The defendant’s use of the mask, false whiskers or any personal disguise was used for the purpose of concealment, flight or escape
  3. AND the defendant was charged with, arrested for or convicted of a public offense.
2. Related Offenses

Similar offenses include the following:

  1. False Identification to Police - California Penal Code Section 148.9 PC
  2. Resisting Arrest - California Penal Code Section 148(a) PC
3. Examples

A man commits a robbery at a convenience store and is concerned that he will be caught, as his face was clearly seen by store cameras and the store’s owner would be able to describe the man’s appearance. The man puts on a fake beard that he has in his pocket after he leaves the store so that he will not be able to be recognized or identified. This man could be charged with wearing a mask or disguise to evade police in violation of California Penal Code Section 185 PC in addition to any other robbery or burglary offense he may have committed.

In another example a man is at a Halloween party when he gets into an argument with another person at the party. The man physically strikes the other man and knocks him unconscious, then decides to go to a different party. After the man leaves, other guests at the party contact the police to report an assault and battery. While walking to the other Halloween party, the man puts on a mask that is part of his costume. While this man may be charged with assault and battery, he would not be guilty of wearing a mask or disguise to evade police because he did not wear the mask to avoid police detection, but rather only wore the mask because it was part of his Halloween costume.

4. Defenses to Wearing a Mask or Disguise to Evade Police

As discussed above, a defendant must wear the mask or disguise in order to avoid detection. If the disguise is worn for some other reason, the defendant would not be criminally liable for this offense. Simply wearing a mask or disguise is not a crime in and of itself. Additionally, if the defendant did not commit a public offense, or was not in the commission of such an offense at the time the mask or disguise was worn, he or she would not be guilty of this offense.

5. Penalties

Wearing a mask or disguise in order to avoid police detection is a misdemeanor offense that is punishable by up to 180 days in jail, community service or community labor, costly court fines and any other conditions of probation that a judge may impose. In addition, the defendant could still be prosecuted for the underlying crime for which they were trying to avoid detection.

6. Criminal Defense for Wearing a Mask or Disguise to Evade Police

If you have been charged with wearing a mask or disguise to evade the police, it is crucial that you speak with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as possible. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who possesses the legal acumen and litigation skills necessary to defend those charged with offenses like this. Mr. Kraut works hard to make sure his clients receive the absolute best defense possible.

For more information about wearing a mask or disguise to evade police charges, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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