Is It a Crime to Lie to the Police?
Regardless of the situation, you should never lie to the police. It can be a crime to lie to law enforcement officers depending on the circumstances. For instance, if you cannot remember exactly what someone did or said, that is not considered lying. It is also not a criminal offense if you report a crime and misidentify the perpetrator. You lie to the police when you knowingly provide false information and want the police to rely on that information.
Examples of Crimes You Could Be Charged with if You Lie to the Police
The following are some of the crimes you could be charged with if you lie to the police;
Falsely Reporting a Crime
When you file a report with law enforcement, your words are thoroughly scrutinized. If anything in the police report is false, you could face serious charges. You could be charged with falsely reporting a crime if you inform the police that a crime has been committed, knowing that it is not true, with the intention that the police rely on the information. You could be charged with falsely reporting a crime if you falsely accuse someone innocent of committing a crime. Additionally, you could be charged with this offense if you make a statement of fact that does not reflect the context of the incident in question.
According to New York law, filing a false police report can be considered a third, second, or first-degree offense, depending on the circumstances. In New York, this crime can either be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the information provided and the actions law enforcement has taken because of the information.
Obstruction of Justice
Obstruction of justice is another crime you can be charged with if you lie to the police. If you provide the police with deceptive or false information, you could be charged with obstruction of justice. Other acts that entail obstruction of justice include destroying evidence and threatening or trying to influence a witness in another way.
Making False Statements to the Police
You are guilty of this offense if you provide a statement to the police that you know is false with the intention to mislead the police or hinder an investigation. You don’t need to be under oath to commit this crime.
Accessory After the Fact
If someone commits a criminal offense and you lie to the police to protect them, you could be charged with being an accessory after the fact. For instance, suppose your friend robs a bank, and while running from the police, they come to hide at your house. If the police come knocking at your door, and you tell them that you haven’t seen your friend after they ask you if you know where your friend is, knowing well that your friend has robbed a bank, and with the intention to help them avoid arrest, you can be charged with being an accessory after the fact.
Providing a False Name
Depending on the state, this crime may be looked at as a separate crime, or it may fall under obstruction of justice. You are guilty of this offense if you give the police someone else’s name or a false name during a traffic stop or an investigation.
Contact Us for Legal Help
If you need more information or help with a criminal case, contact our qualified NYC criminal attorney, Mark I. Cohen.