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Wearing a Mask to Evade Police

In the state of California, it is illegal to wear a mask or disguise as a way to conceal your identity from law enforcement. This is covered under California Penal Code Section 185 PC.

Should a person be charged under this section of the law, a prosecutor will have to prove the defendant wore a mask,  or some type of personal disguise to avoid detection by law enforcement. They must show the defendant was successful in evading or escaping discovery or recognition or identification as a result of their disguise or mask. It must also be proven the defendant was involved in the commission of a crime.  If they are charged with the crime, the individual might be eligible for bail.

Legal Definition

The legal definition of California Penal Code Section 185 PC is using a personal disguise or mask in a situation that contains the following elements. A person is involved in a crime and wore a mask, false whiskers or some type of personal disguise partially or completely to hide their identity. This was done to evade or escape discovery by law enforcement and to avoid detection during the commission of a public offense. It could also be for the purpose of concealment during escape or flight after being arrested, charged or convicted of a public offense.


In the state of California, if it is proven a suspect wore a mask or disguise with the intent to avoid police detection, it is a misdemeanor offense. In certain circumstances, it could be punishable with 180 days of incarceration, performing community service, court fines of up to $1,000 as well as any other conditions involved with granting probation. The defendant may still be prosecuted for the crime that took place during their efforts to avoid detection using a mask or disguise.

Non-Criminal Defense
If it can be proven a person did not wear a mask or disguise for the purpose of evading police, they can’t be charged with this crime. It is not illegal to simply wear a mask or have on a disguise when it does not involve committing a public offense. If a person did not commit a public offense or was not in the process of committing a crime while wearing a mask or disguise, they can not be charged with this offense.

Criminal Defense
Individuals charge under California Penal Code Section 185 PC will try to prove their intention with using a mask or disguise was for legal reasons. Another defense is that the accused individual did not commit the associated crime. A person can only be charged with wearing a mask or having on a disguise to avoid law enforcement if it is associated with committing a crime. If none of these things can be proven, then a person can’t be charged under this section of the law.

In the event a person is charged, they may want to avoid spending time in jail. It may be a good for them to start working on their legal defense. Using the services of a licensed bail bond agent after a bond hearing may the best way a suspect can avoid spending any time in jail.

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