Quitina Helms has been accused of impersonating a police officer in Norcross.
According to reports, she allegedly wore a shirt saying “POLICE” across the front and back. Helms then stopped a car on Sunday morning, shined a light inside the vehicle, and asked the occupants to get out of the vehicle. She then proceeded to ask them for names and identification saying that she was running for warrants.
The four occupants grew suspicious when Helms refused to show them her badge, and one of the occupants then jumped into Helms' vehicle and drove off to call 911.
During her court appearance, Helms told police it was just a prank, and she was allegedly seen smiling multiple times. Helms has been charged with impersonating an officer and false imprisonment in Georgia and remains in Gwinnett County Jail.
As a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney, I will focus on the offense of impersonating a police officer in today's post.
Impersonating a Police Officer in Georgia
The Georgia Code defines impersonating a public officer as:
A person who falsely holds himself out as a peace officer or other public officer or employee with intent to mislead another into believing that he is actually such officer commits the offense of impersonating an office. O.C.G.A. §16-10-23.
If found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and convicted of impersonating a police officer, then the penalty can include a fine up to $1,000 and jail time of anywhere from one to five years.
As a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, I try my best to explain that just because someone has been accused of committing a criminal offense does not mean that they are guilty of that particular criminal offense. Wrongful accusations happen more often than we would like to admit to ourselves. A lot of the time, the accusations are for more serious offenses than the person is guilty of committing if they committed any legal wrong-doing at all.
Criminal law is composed of statutes and furthermore of legal elements. All the elements of a crime have to be met in order to prove someone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If evidence shows that Helms did not meet all the elements of false imprisonment and impersonating a police officer in Georgia, then she will not be convicted.