Providing False Information to a Peace Officer: 148.5 (PC)
We previously discussed how you can’t be charged with obstruction of justice if you refuse to speak with the police. But while you always have the right to remain silent and to have a lawyer present when you do choose to speak to police, giving them false information is a crime.
Providing False Information to a Peace Officer
It doesn’t matter if you tell a white lie to help a friend, if you’re falsely accusing someone of a crime or if you tell a serious lie to help cover your own criminal acts, it’s always a bad idea to lie to the police. In fact, lying to the police could make an otherwise innocent person face criminal charges.
Just giving a false statement to an officer of the law is a misdemeanor, as is falsely representing yourself to a peace officer (so if you give police a false name or a fake ID, you can be charged). If your lie delays, impedes or otherwise interferes with a police investigation, you could even be charged with obstruction of justice, which could be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.
If you lied to help someone involved in a crime, you could also be charged with being an accessory after the fact, another crime that can be both a misdemeanor or felony. Finally, giving the police forged documents is also a crime. This further emphasizes the importance of always insist on using your Fifth Amendment right to silence and ask to speak with your lawyer any time you are asked to speak with the police. Do not try to handle these matters yourself.
Fighting the Charges
Fortunately, there are defenses to all of these crimes. Perhaps the best defense to a charge involving providing false information to the police is simply arguing that you did not believe the information to be untrue. If you did not knowingly lie to the police, you cannot be charged with a crime. Alternatively, if you lied to help someone accused of a crime, but did so under duress because you were afraid for your safety or the safety of others, you cannot be considered an accessory after the fact or to have committed obstruction of justice.
If you have been accused of providing untrue information to the police, do not talk to anyone about the case without your attorney present. Please call (858) 486-3024 or (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss.
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