It is often said that when you witness or encounter a crime that you should immediately report it to the police. In many situations, people fail to do so. However, there have also been instances of people falsely reporting a crime. It is illegal filing a false police report in the state of California. According to California Penal Code Section 148.5, it is a criminal offense to make a report when you know it to be false.
The crime applies to not only reporting to police officers but also to attorney generals and peace officers. The individual must have given the false information to the officer while a said officer was performing their duties. Furthermore, the Penal Code explains that the individual providing the false report did so in order to shed light on a felony or misdemeanor crime that had been committed. What the prosecution must prove in this case, is that the individual accused of filing the report must have known that they were making a false report. As such, this crime does not apply to individuals who make police reports for crimes they truly believe to have been committed.
A false police report is classified as a misdemeanor
If the prosecution finds the defendant guilty of having committed a said crime, it is up to the discretion of the judge to set an appropriate jail time for the defendant. The crime is classified as a misdemeanor, which can require up to six months in jail (or more) based on what the judge considers necessary. However, while jail time is indeed severe, what is more, severe is the harm done to one’s reputation. It will reflect on a person’s criminal record that they willingly sought out a police officer, told them incorrect information and wasted their time. Such an act can have negative repercussions when the convicted individual must deal with state or police officers in the future.