Lying to Law Enforcement
Did you know it is illegal to give false information about a commission of a crime or for giving false information during an investigation? Florida Statute 837.055 prohibits reporting a real crime and also giving false information while section 837.05 deals with lying to law enforcement once an investigation has begun.
There is a difference between lying and being mistaken. It is a crime to lie to law enforcement but it is not a crime to be mistaken. During stressful situations, we don’t always observe the events accurately, and while under stress, we may misspeak or forget the facts. This is understandable because we are not robots who can remember everything perfectly. Sometimes individuals honestly tell law enforcement what they think what happened, but in reality the facts are wrong. This is where innocent people can get into trouble.
Examples where innocent people can get themselves in trouble:
- Incorrectly remembering facts.
- Incorrectly speaking facts.
- Incorrectly observing facts.
- Supplying information gaps with their own incorrect facts.
Giving False Information to Police Concerning the Commission of a Crime
Florida Statute 837.055 prohibits the reporting of false information when reporting a crime. This is where you call up 911 and report a real crime but state false information. The reasoning behind this statute is that individuals sometimes state false information so as to get law enforcement off their trial. Contrast this with Florida Statute 817.49 that makes it a crime to report a crime that never happened.
What the Prosecutor has to Prove to Convict the Defendant of Giving False Information to Police Concerning the Commission of a Crime
- The defendant knowingly gave information about the alleged commission of a crime;
- The defendant knew the information was false;
- The defendant gave the false information to a law enforcement officer;
- The person was a law enforcement officer; and
- The defendant knew that the officer was a law enforcement officer.
Punishment for Lying About the Commission of a Crime
Falsely reporting a crime is a first-degree misdemeanor that is punishable up to 365 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
If this is the second conviction and the defendant was audio or video recorded, the defendant gave written statement, or a third party overheard the conversation, the crime is a third-degree felony punishable up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If the lying is about the commission of a capital felony, the crime is a third-degree felony punishable up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Lying Once an Investigation has Begun
Section 837.05 prohibits reporting to law enforcement once the “ball is rolling.” It has the same reasoning as the other section, prohibiting individuals from making false reports because they want to cover their trail.
What the Prosecutor has to Prove to Convict the Defendant of Lying to Police During an Investigation
The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The law enforcement officer was conducting a missing person investigation or a felony criminal investigation;
- The individual was a law enforcement officer;
- The defendant knew the individual was a law enforcement officer;
- The defendant knowingly and willfully gave false information to the officer; and
- The defendant intended to mislead the office or impede the investigation.
The hard part about both of these crimes is that the prosecutor is going to have to prove that the defendant knowingly and willfully lied to law enforcement. The prosecutor is going to have to find some piece of information that proves that the defendant was not mistaken or misspoken but lying.
The investigation must be about a missing person or a felony. The facts the police officers had at the time will help determine this. A good defense lawyer will take depositions of the investigating officers to find out what they knew at the time.
Punishment for Lying to Law Enforcement During an Investigation
Lying to law enforcement during a missing person investigation or felony investigation is a first-degree misdemeanor that is punishable up to 365 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
If the missing person investigation involves a missing child under 16 and the child suffers great bodily harm, permanent disability, permanent disfigurement, or death, the crime is a third-degree felony that is punishable up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Contact the Law Office of Roger P. Foley, P.A.
These crimes can be defended. Our Wellington Lying Defense Attorney will investigate the case and find out the facts about what happened. Call our law offices to schedule a 5 minute free consultation. Our attorneys need to talk to you to find out what you said. It is important for you to tell us everything about what happened. From the information you give us, we will create a custom tailored defense strategy to your case. We can negotiate with the prosecutor, argue to the judge, or argue to the jury; however you need us to represent you, we are capable and experienced. The sooner you call, the sooner we get to work helping you.