What is the Punishment for Filing a False Police Report? 

What happens if you make a false report?

Police reports are public records that allow journalists and private individuals to examine public resources, such as tax dollars, allocated to law enforcement. Because these police records are open to any who seek to learn from them it has been possible to discern patterns related to police responses to emergency reports.

Giving false information to police is a growing and potentially dangerous aspect of law enforcement and a headache for public prosecutors.

What is a False Police Report?

A false statement to police is an account given to law enforcement that falsely describes an event or crime that did not occur. When someone gives misleading information to police officers or dispatchers, prompting unnecessary investigations and resource expenditure.

Types of False Police Reports

If someone lies to a police officer or dispatcher about a crime happening, they are making a false police report. Any statements that prompt police to respond to or investigate a crime is considered a police report. Examples of fake reports include:

  • blaming a domestic partner for abuse that they are not responsible for
  • claiming that an article was stolen when it was lost or broken
  • reporting a burglary in order to collect insurance money 
  • swatting.

Does Mistakenly Giving False Information to the Police Qualify as a False Report?

Not every case of providing incorrect information to police constitutes a false accusation. Falsely reporting a crime implies deliberate intent to deceive law enforcement. If wrong information was given by accident or mistake, it might not result in a criminal charge by the police. 

What Happens if You File a False Police Report?

Giving false information to a police officer can lead to serious legal repercussions, ranging from misdemeanor charges to felony convictions, depending on how serious the lie is. 

Is Making a False Police Report a Felony?

 

Usually, making false statements to police results in only a misdemeanor charge against the person reporting, but it depends on the severity of the situation. False reporting of a crime like burglary to collect insurance money could be escalated to a more significant classification of crime depending on the amount of money involved (such as faking a death). 

Calling in a bomb threat that requires police to invest significant time and energy clearing a building is also likely to be escalated above misdemeanor status. Lawmakers are also taking a hard stance against the type of false report that is commonly known as swatting.

Can a False Police Report Show up in Your Public Records?

Is Filing a False Police Report a Felony?

Public police reports are records that name the individuals charged with crimes. Those records become a criminal history or criminal record if the individual is successfully convicted of such crimes. 

Oftentimes even those who are not convicted are haunted for years by criminal records that can be difficult to correct or seal from public view. Such criminal records are accessed by employers doing background checks, schools investigating applicants, adoption agencies, and countries considering whether to allow a visa application

Many states allow individuals to seal or expunge minor criminal charges after a period of years but that can be a challenging process. Criminal records, particularly felony convictions, can be difficult to bounce back from.

What Are the Consequences of Making False Statements to Police 

Law enforcement deception carries significant consequences, from legal penalties to potential civil liabilities. Understanding these repercussions is crucial for anyone involved in such a situation.

What is the Penalty for Filing an UnFounded Police Report?

The false police report penalty for a misdemeanor, such as falsely claiming assault by a neighbor, can include up to a year in jail, fines, and community service. Repeat offenders or those with prior criminal records may face enhanced penalties. For more severe false reports, such as those involving mail fraud, the punishment for filing a false police report can include up to a year or more in prison.

What is the Punishment For Filing a False Report at a Police Station?

A misdemeanor, such as for filing a false report that says your neighbor punched you, is punishable by a year or less in jail, and is often settled for a fine and community service. Those with previous criminal records however are likely to have the charges enhanced. 

A felony-level false report, such as one using the mail (which invokes interstate commerce clauses) is punishable by a year or more in prison. Also, any false reports that result in injury to another person, property damage, or a major police response (swat teams, helicopters) are likely to be charged at the felony level.

Continuing to make false statements in court (claiming the false report was real) can result in additional charges added to the docket, including perjury. If you lie to get insurance money, you can face fraud or theft charges if you obtain the money dishonestly. Making a claim that another person caused you harm or stole valuable items from your home or business may also result in a civil lawsuit for defamation as they seek to penalize the reporter for damage to their reputation.

What to Do If Someone Files a False Police Report Against You

Can a False Police Report Show up in Your Public Records?

 

Being the target of a false crime report can be distressing. It’s essential to know your rights and steps to clear your name.

Can You Press Charges on Someone for Filing a False Report?

Yes, you can pursue charges against someone for making a false police report. You may need to provide evidence that the report was intentionally fabricated. This action can be crucial in holding the individual accountable and preventing further harm.

How to Prove a False Police Report

To prove a fake police report, gather all relevant evidence, such as witness statements, alibis, or any discrepancies in the report itself. Legal counsel can assist in building a strong defense to demonstrate that the report was deliberately false.

Examples of Falsely Reported Crimes

Swatting is a common but dangerous prank in which one person calls the police to report an emergency situation at another person’s home or place of business, causing the police to swarm the location, often with guns drawn. This sort of fake emergency is considered an instance of giving false information to police, which is a criminal act.

Many state legislators have acted to make swatting a felony offense and to create specific penalties for the act. Swatting is a drain on emergency response resources and can be dangerous as police and fire vehicles rush to a location, putting innocent bystanders in danger. In addition, when the swatting incident claims a person is armed or acting dangerously police may respond in kind, with weapons drawn, further escalating the potential of a bad outcome.

In Wichita, Kansas, police mistakenly shot a man to death because someone called to report that a man had shot his parents to death and was armed and dangerous. When the man opened his front door, police opened fire on him. The entire incident was a case of swatting called in when a fellow gamer in another state got upset with the man. The man who called in the false report was eventually tracked down and charged with a felony crime punishable with up to life in prison.

FAQ

How Can I Avoid Being Charged with False Accusation?

To avoid a false police report charge, ensure all statements made to law enforcement are truthful. Avoid exaggerating or fabricating events, and seek legal advice if you are unsure about the details you report.

Can You Go to Jail for a Fake Crime Report?

Yes, you can go to jail for false reporting of a crime. Misdemeanor charges may result in up to a year in jail, while felony charges can lead to longer prison sentences, especially if the report caused significant harm or emergency response efforts.

How to Report Someone for Filing a False Police Report

To report someone for making false statements to police, provide all necessary documentation and evidence to the authorities. Your report should include details that substantiate the claim of falsification.

Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

While you can attempt to handle a false police report claim on your own, consulting with an attorney is advisable. Legal experts can navigate complex legal procedures and enhance your chances of a favorable outcome.

How Prosecutors Prove a Police Report Is Falsified 

Prosecutors use various methods to prove a police report is false, including forensic evidence, witness testimony, and inconsistencies in the report. They may also investigate motives and gather evidence showing the report's falsity.