Is it illegal to lie to a police officer in Florida?
Yes, it is illegal to lie to a police officer in Florida. When the police ask you for information, you aren’t required to answer any of their questions. But if you do talk to them, you’re not allowed to lie. Lying to the cops, otherwise known as giving False Reports to Law Enforcement Authorities, can get you into a lot of trouble. How much trouble depends on the particulars of the case. The penalties increase with the severity of the crime in question.
According to Florida Statute 837.05 False Reports to Law Enforcement Authorities, lying about any crime is a first-degree misdemeanor. The sentence is up to a year in jail, plus probation and a fine of up to $1,000. But the penalty is more severe if the charge is a second offense, or if the crime under investigation is a capital felony. In that case, giving False Reports to Law Enforcement Authorities is charged as a third-degree felony. The sentence is up to five years in prison, probation and a fine of up to $5,000.
Prosecutors usually add False Reports to Law Enforcement to primary charges for which a suspect is ultimately arrested. For example, a Largo woman charged with murder was also charged with lying to police during the investigation of the crime.
Lying to police during an investigation is separate from filing a false report of a crime. False Reports to Law Enforcement Authorities involves misleading police about a crime that you or someone else committed. Filing a false police report, or False Reports of Commission of Crimes, is reporting a crime that didn’t happen. The charge is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Defense Against False Reports to Law Enforcement Authorities
An aggressive criminal defense attorney can fight charges of lying to police in several ways. First off, a prosecutor has to prove that the information given was actually false. There may be legitimate questions about an incident or the circumstances under which a crime occurred. Some of the information may be open to interpretation. Secondly, a prosecutor has to prove that a defendant knew that the information he gave to police was in fact false.
Your lawyer will evaluate every element of the case against you to make sure that the police and prosecutors have followed the law. If the case is still in the investigation stage, your lawyer may be able to demonstrate that the prosecution has a weak case and stop them from filing charges. If you have been charged, your lawyer will fight to exclude evidence and make pre-trial motions to try to get the case dismissed altogether.
Call 407-644-2466 for a free consultation with an Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney at the Rivas Law Firm. The sooner you speak with a skilled and aggressive lawyer, the better your chances of beating the charges and getting on with your life.