Citizens in society are often encouraged to report a crime to the police. However, they are also warned that filing a false report with malicious intent is also a crime. But what happens if the police officer is the one who files the false report? Is that also a crime? According to California Penal Code Section 118.1, it is illegal for a police officer to include false information in a police report. Furthermore, other charges could also apply.
A police officer deliberately filing false information in a report is a serious offense. As such, it is imperative that the elements of the crime are proven by the prosecution. The prosecutor must prove to the court that the person in question is a police officer. While that officer was performing their professional duties, they wrote a criminal police report that included false information pertaining to a material matter, and that the officer deliberately entered the false information knowing it to be false. The most important note here is that the officer must have known that the information was false. If the officer spoke to a party connected to the criminal matter and received false information, but the officer did not know it was false, and then entered the information into a report, this specific charge would not apply.
If it is found that a police officer deliberately included false information in a report, the officer faces a wobbler charge. Depending on the context of the case, if the officer is charged with a misdemeanor they face spending up to one year in a county jail and serving summary probation. However, in the case of a felony conviction, the officer could face formal probation, up to three years in a state prison and/or time in a county jail. If an officer has been charged with this crime, it is of the utmost importance that they seek the advice of an experienced criminal attorney.
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