Is It Illegal to Knowingly Give Police False Information?
In the beginning of April, a woman in Pennsylvania was convicted of falsely accusing two state troopers of raping her. She stated one trooper raped her in his police cruiser, and she filed a protection-from-abuse application that stated another trooper had also raped her. The prosecution argued that the statements were false. They also theorized that she and her husband were simply trying to get back at state police after her husband was banned from the casino. A jury agreed after deliberating for just half an hour.
So, what is the crime of providing false information to the police in Pennsylvania? Will someone face jail time if convicted?
The Law on Providing False Reports to Law Enforcement
The Pennsylvania statute dealing with providing false reports to law enforcement is found at Title 18, Section 4906. This statute states that it is against the law for a person to knowingly provide false information to law enforcement authorities. The statute outlines a few specific situations in which someone could face charges.
The statute states that it is a crime to provide information about a crime to law enforcement when you don’t actually have information pertaining to that crime. The worse offense under this statute is providing false information to law enforcement in order to incriminate someone else.
It’s important to understand that simply providing false information to law enforcement isn’t always a crime. People often forget details about certain circumstances, including when a crime was involved. They may also become confused and mix up some information. This doesn’t necessarily mean they deserve to face penalties for breaking the law.
In order for the prosecution to have a successful case, they must prove that a person knowingly gave false information. If it was simply an honest mistake, no crime was committed.
Penalties for Providing False Reports
Lying to law enforcement may seem like a very minor thing. However in the eyes of the law, it’s a fairly serious crime. The job of law enforcement is to get dangerous people off the streets, and protect everyone in their community. When they are lied to, particularly when it is to falsely incriminate someone else, it makes the job of law enforcement much more difficult. Those convicted of providing false information to law enforcement face harsh penalties.
In Pennsylvania, those penalties vary depending on the circumstances of the crime. If a person knowingly provides false information to law enforcement, it is considered a misdemeanor in the third degree. For those convicted, this crime is punishable by up to one year in prison and a maximum fine of $2,500.
The penalties become more serious when a person knowingly provides false information with the intent to incriminate another person. This is considered a misdemeanor in the second degree. The penalties if convicted are up to two years in jail and a maximum fine of $5,000.
In the event that a person provides false information to law enforcement during a declared state of emergency, and the false information takes law enforcement away from helping with that emergency, the crime is upgraded and the penalties increase.
Facing Charges? Call the Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Lawyers that can Help
If you have been accused of providing false information to law enforcement, or any other crime, don’t try to beat the charges on your own. Call a skilled Allentown criminal defense attorney for help.
At van der Veen, Hartshorn, and Levin, we help people that have been falsely accused every day. We want to help you, too. Call us today at 215-515-6892 to learn more about what we can do for you. We’ll help you build a strong defense, fight for your rights in court, and refute the arguments raised by the prosecution. Contact us today so we can get started reviewing your case.