A bill to outlaw the impersonation of a veteran or member of the military has been signed into law. Gov. Brad Henry signed the measure on Monday. Sen. Don Barrington is principal author of Senate Bill 777 which includes fines and jail time for the crime.
“The idea that someone would even do this is a slap in the face to the men and women who really have risked their lives for our country. But when you have an emergency or disaster situation, these impersonators could wind up putting people in harm’s way,” said Barrington, R-Lawton.
Under SB 777, co-authored by Rep. Ann Coody, R-Lawton, any individual who knowingly impersonated a veteran or member of the military with “intent to deceive” by wearing decorations, medals or badges awarded to members of the armed forces would be guilty of a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $100 or up to six months in jail or both.
Wearing a military uniform with the intent to deceive would be a misdemeanor resulting in a $1000 fine and a year in jail.
Anyone caught knowingly manufacturing, reproducing or selling any article of merchandise manufactured or sold by veterans’ organizations would also face misdemeanor charges with a fine of up to $500 and up to a year in county jail.
If someone impersonates a member of the military by wearing the Congressional Medal of Honor, the offender will be guilty of a felony and would face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $5000.
“There are already federal laws on the books addressing these things, but often federal law enforcement agencies do not have the time or the manpower to investigate and prosecute local incidents,” Barrington explained. “This will increase our ability to bring imposters to justice.”
The new law becomes effective November 1, 2005.