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Impersonating a Minister

Just as it is illegal to impersonate a police officer or a public officer or official, it is also a crime to impersonate a minister in DC. In fact, impersonation of a minister is actually considered a felony and therefore can carry fairly significant consequences including fines and jail time. In order to avoid these possible penalties and consequences, anyone who is facing charges of impersonating a minister should be certain to consult with a defense attorney in DC as soon as possible, so as to start building a defense against these charges.

Legal Definition of a Minister in DC

Any person who is qualified to celebrate a marriage would be considered a “minister” under the DC Code. For example, in DC a judge, retired judge, the Mayor of DC, or a minister, priest, rabbi, or other authorized person of any religious denomination or society is authorized to celebrate a marriage, and therefore is considered to be a minister. With this said it is illegal to falsely impersonate a minister just as it would be illegal to impersonate a police officer or other public figure.

Complications With Impersonating a Minister

In DC it is illegal to falsely represent yourself as a minister and attempt to perform a duty of a minister or exercise the authority of a minister. It is also illegal to knowingly attempt to act as a minister, after being duly appointed, but after your appointment or commission has expired or after being dismissed from such office. To avoid being charged with Impersonation of a Minister, it is important to avoid performing duties, such as marrying two people, when you are not authorized or no longer authorized to act as a minister.

Consequences of Impersonating a Minister 

Impersonating a minister in DC is a felony and the penalties for impersonation are not trivial. If convicted of impersonating a minister, the maximum potential consequences include imprisonment up to three years, but no less than 1 year, a fine of $12,500, or both.

The government has a strong interest in ensuring that ministers in DC are in fact ministers. One of the main reasons DC law makes falsely impersonating a minister illegal is to preserve the evidence of marriages. As such, it is important to be able to verify the legitimacy of a marriage which is made very complicated in cases with a false minister.

Benefit of An Attorney

In DC, falsely impersonating a minister is a serious offense that is considered to be a felony crime. As a result, it is important for anyone facing these charges to consult with a DC impersonation lawyer immediately who can help them to understand the law and provide them with any defenses that would apply to the circumstances in their case. A DC lawyer will be in the best position to provide such a person with sound advice and negotiate on their behalf if they are charged with falsely impersonating a minister.