Is it a Crime to Lie to a Police Officer? (PC 148.5)
Little lies are often harmless. You might lie to your spouse about where you were when you were buying his or her birthday present. You might lie to your child about the existence of the Tooth Fairy. Usually, those kinds of lies are told with the intent that the person you lied to will one day know the truth and not be angry about the lie.
That is not the case when the person being lied to works in law enforcement and is in the performance of his or her duties. If you lie to a police officer, you could face serious legal repercussions.
Lying to an Officer Can Be a Crime
There are a number of California laws that you could be violating by providing false information to a law enforcement officer. The three most common violations each carry a punishment of up to six months in county jail and fines of up to $1,000.
Giving False Information to a Peace Officer (VC 31)
Under California Vehicle Code Section 31, it is a misdemeanor to knowingly provide false information to a person who you know or should know is a peace officer while he or she is in the performance of his or her duties.
Examples of violations of this law include:
- Providing false identification
- Telling an officer false information about where you are going or where you have been, and
- A false response about whether or not you have valid auto insurance
False Report of a Crime (PC 148.5)
It is also a criminal offense to make a false report of a crime to law enforcement. In order to be convicted under PC 148.5, the prosecution must prove that you:
- Knowingly provided a false report that a crime was committed, or
- Provided false details about a crime that actually was committed
Examples of this crime include reporting a car stolen when you knew that the car was not stolen or providing a falsely inflated value of the worth of property that actually was stolen.
Giving False Identification to a Peace Officer (PC 148.9)
Under PC 148.9, you can be charged with a misdemeanor for knowingly providing false information to a peace officer for the purpose of avoiding proper identification by the officer or for the purpose of evading process of the court.
Lying to Federal Agents (18 U.S.C. Section 1001)
In addition to violating California laws, you could violate federal law by lying to a federal agent, such as an agent of the FBI or DEA.
Under 18 U.S.C. Section 1001, it is a crime to knowingly and willfully:
- Falsify, conceal or cover up by any trick, scheme or device a material fact
- Make any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation, or
- Make or use any false writing or document knowing it contains any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement
If you are convicted of lying to a federal agent, you face up to five years in federal prison and expensive fines.
This Why You Shouldn’t Speak to the Police
As you can see, there are many different ways you could end up being prosecuted for a crime when you speak to a law enforcement officer. Our law firm strongly recommends that when a police officer wishes to speak to you, do all of the following:
- Be polite and courteous
- Provide them with your correct name if requested
- Provide them with valid identification if asked to do so
- Provide them with proof of valid car insurance if asked to do so
- Other than that, do not speak to anyone in law enforcement
Always politely tell the law enforcement officer that you choose to not answer his or her questions and you wish to speak to your lawyer. If you follow this sound legal advice, you can avoid being accused of providing false information to a law enforcement officer.
Speak to Our Criminal Defense Attorneys If You’re Accused of Lying to Police
If you have been charged with lying to a peace officer, you should speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney at Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible. Our skilled criminal defense lawyers have more than 40 years of experience successfully defending clients facing criminal charges for lying to a law enforcement officer. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.