False Statements to a California Police Officer

Some don’t realize that giving false statements to a police officer is a crime in California. Others believe giving police information that is just partially untruthful is just a minor issue with no consequences, but it could lead to harsh penalties

Seasoned police officers typically know if you are lying to them because they have extensive experience dealing with people giving them false information.  They are very familiar with the common signs of lying.

For example, body language, emotions, details that don’t make sense, changing stories, avoiding eye contact, and lying on minor stuff.  They frequently develop reliable gut feeling for detecting a lie. Once a police officer has suspicion you are lying to them, you will get a closer examination.

There are several California statutes dealing with providing false information to law enforcement officers. Giving false information to police officer is typically a misdemeanor crime, but in some cases, the charges are more serious.

A conviction for proving false statements to police can have a long-term impact on your future opportunities.

To give readers a better understanding of the different laws on providing false information to a police officer, our California criminal defense lawyers are providing an overview below.

Providing False Information to Police – California Vehicle Code 31

Providing false information to a police officer is a crime described under California Vehicle Code 31.

It’s defined as “Nobody shall give, either orally or in writing, information to a peace officer performing their duties, when they know the information is false.” Providing false information to a police officer includes giving them:

  • A false name
  • A fake, borrowed or counterfeit identification
  • A fake, forged, or counterfeit vehicle registration
  • False information to a question you know is not true

A common VC 31 example includes a situation where you give a police officer a fake name after being pulled over on a routine traffic stop. Vehicle Code 31 is typically a misdemeanor crime that carries six months in a county jail, and a fine up to $1,000, but there are specific circumstances when giving false information to a police officer could lead to more serious charges.

Making a False Report of a Crime – California Penal Code 148.5

It’s also unlawful to knowingly make a false report that a misdemeanor or felony crime was committed to anyone employed to take a crime report, including police officers, sheriff’s deputies, district attorney, or someone who is an employee of a state agency.

It should be noted that the individual reporting the false crime has to know It’s false and the individual whom they are reporting the crime has to be engaged in their duty to take the report. Common examples of Penal Code 148.5 filing a false report include:

  • Report that a crime was committed when there was no crime
  • Giving false details of a criminal offense
  • Giving a false report of a theft crime or property damage
  • Giving false property value stolen or damaged

An example includes a scenario where you report a theft of property to collect money on an insurance policy. It also includes a scenario where you submit a false report of a domestic violence to gain an advantage in a family law issue.

It’s a separate offense under California Vehicle Code 10501 to file a false report of a car theft.

To be convicted of Penal Code 148.5 filing a false report, the prosecutor has to be able to prove – beyond any reasonable doubt – you made a false report of a crime, knowing it was false, and knew the person whom you were reporting to was acting in the performance of their duty to accept such a report.

If convicted of a misdemeanor crime of PC 148.5 filing a false report of a crime, you are facing up to six months in county jail, and a fine up to $1,000.

It’s possible to be charged with a felony offense if you committed the crime in addition to fraud or perjury. Obviously, a conviction has the potential to impact your future opportunities.

Our criminal defense attorneys lawyer can use a range of potential defenses against these charges and might be able to get the case reduced or dismissed.

We might be able to argue you had good faith belief the information you provided was true. Additionally, we might be able to argue you believed you weren’t making the report to someone who was acting in their duty to accept these type reports.

False Identification to a Police Officer – California Penal Code 148.9

 Under Penal Code 148.9, it’s a crime to give a false name or false identifying information to a police officer once you were lawfully detained or arrested with intent to avoid proper identification or evading the court process. PC 148.9 includes giving a false date of birth or other dates supporting false identification.

A classic example involves a scenario where you were lawfully detained after being pulled over on a traffic stop and you decide to tell the police officer a false name.

To be convicted of Penal Code 148.9 false identification to a police officer, the prosecutor must be the following elements of the crime:

  • You falsely identified yourself to a police officer
  • The police officer was engaged in the performance of their duties
  • You knew the individual who received false identification was a police officer

If you are convicted of PC 148.9 falsely identifying yourself to a police officer, you are facing up to six months in county jail, and a fine up to $1.000.

A “peace officer” is someone engaged in their law enforcement duties, and includes a police officer, sheriff deputy, California Highway Patrol, or even an investigator employed by the District Attorney’s Office.

Cron, Israels & Stark Can Help You

If you are facing allegations of providing false information to police, contact our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers to review the details and options.

A conviction could result in time in county jail and heavy fines, along with a permanent criminal record. Protect your future by discussing your case with our lawyers. We need to review all the details to plan a strategy for best outcome.

Cron, Israels & Stark is a criminal defense law firm with decades of experience and a record of success. Our office is located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025. For a free consultation, contact us at (424) 372-3112.