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Va. Court: Impersonating An Officer Is Not Protected Speech

August 15, 2012  | 

A Virginia appellate court has ruled that the state's law against impersonating a police officer is constitutional, a ruling that countered the U.S. Supreme Court's June decision that lying about being a war hero is protected speech.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a 2-1 ruling on Tuesday.

The ruling stemmed from a case brought by Douglas Chappell, who was stopped for speeding in October 2009 by a U.S. Park Police officer on the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Chappell told the officer he was a deputy with the Fairfax County (Va.) Sheriff's Office.

Chappell had argued the Virginia statute "criminalizes the behavior of adults who attend costume parties dressed as a police officer, children playing cops and robbers, and actors portraying law enforcement officials."

In his majority opinion, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III called Chappell's argument ludicrous, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Tags: First Amendment, U.S. Park Police, Police Impostors, Federal Appellate Courts


Comments (4)

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4

TripWire @ 8/16/2012 6:30 PM

I don't think there are any problems of little kids in costume getting arrested. I don't think that I am the only one that is glad they kept this pandoras box closed. Now it they will take a second look at the Stolen Valor Act all will be well.

ChiefJohn @ 8/17/2012 5:28 AM

My 4 yr old grandson dressing up as a police officer vs. a 35 year old idiot playing dress up and pulling women over. Thats quite a difference! The guy is missing a few fries in his happy meal.

FedCop @ 8/17/2012 5:42 AM

As someone who works in VA, I am glad to see that the courts have shown that common sense prevails.

MikeAT @ 8/19/2012 4:49 PM

In Texas the law is simple. Wearing a police uniform or something resembling it is not illegal. When you start presenting yourself as a cop or using police authority, then it becomes a problem.

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