Wearing a mask or a disguise can be fun and is often expected around certain holidays. However, this behavior can sometimes lead to criminal charges in California. For example, individuals may be prosecuted under California Penal Code Section 185: Wearing Mask or Disguise to Evade Police.
Wearing a mask or disguise to evade the police can lead to serious criminal charges. Go over the exact definition of a PC 185 charge and focus on the penalties for a conviction right here. The Simmrin Law Group can even help you review possible legal defenses.
California’s Definition of Wearing a Mask or Disguise to Evade Police
As we previously noted, individuals should not be arrested every time they wear a mask in California. Instead, the court system can file charges under PC 185 only in two situations. The first situation occurs if:
- Someone Wears a Mask or Disguise WHILE
- Escaping or Evading Discovery by Police Officers OR
- During the Commission of a Criminal Offense
An individual may also be arrested for:
- Wearing a Mask or Disguise
- In Order to Escape or Conceal Their Identity
Individuals should only be charged if they are then arrested, charged with, or convicted of committing some kind of public offense. Note that – for the purposes of a PC 185 conviction – any kind of personal disguise may be used to conceal an individual’s identity, included false whiskers.
Penalties for Wearing a Mask or Disguise to Evade Police
The court system treats wearing a mask or disguise to evade police as a misdemeanor in California. The penalties for a conviction can be severe, including:
- Up to $1,000 in Fines
- Up to 6 Months of Jail Time
Individuals may also be subject to summary probation after a PC 185 conviction. Note that there are several other charges that may apply if someone attempts to avoid arrest or to otherwise evade the police in California. The court system may utilize the following charges in these situations:
- California Penal Code Section 148(a): Resisting Arrest
- California Penal Code Section 243(b) PC & 243(c)(2): Battery On A Peace Or Police Officer
- California Vehicle Code Section 2800: Disobeying A Peace Officer
- California Vehicle Code Section 2800.2: Reckless Evading Of A Peace Officer
Examples of Wearing a Mask or Disguise to Evade Police
Go over some examples of the application of PC 185 charges right here:
A woman decides to steal some jewelry from a local store. She sticks a wig and a mask into her purse and – after stealing the jewelry – she slips into the bathroom and dons the disguise. She believes she will be able to leave the store since she now looks different. She could be charged under PC 185.
A man puts on a mask for a Halloween party that gets a little out of hand. Police officers are eventually called to address a noise complaint. Everyone is wearing masks when the police arrive. However, no one at the party is committing any criminal acts and no one is trying to evade the police. None of the party goers should be prosecuted under PC 185.
Legal Defenses and PC 185 Charges in California
There are a number of legal defenses that can apply if you are charged with wearing a mask or disguise to evade police in California. A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help you go over your legal options, which could include demonstrating that:
You Were Not Trying to Avoid Detection
Wearing a mask or disguise is not against the law in most cases. You must intentionally be trying to avoid detection by the police during the commission of a criminal act or after you have been charged, arrested, or convicted to face PC 185 charges. A legal professional may be able to build your defense by showing your true intentions.
You Did Not Commit Any Public Offense
You could be falsely accused of carrying out a public offense while wearing a mask or disguise in California. If you did not break any law, you should not face criminal charges under PC 185. Let a lawyer go over the specifics of your case to help build your defense today.
You Can Get Help Handling PC 185 Charges Now
Dealing with a criminal charge under California Penal Code Section 185: Wearing Mask or Disguise to Evade Police can be difficult if you are working alone. Get the help you deserve by contacting the Simmrin Law Group now. You can call us at (310) 896-2723, or complete our online contact form to get started.
Learn more about PC 185 charges with a FREE consultation.