If you get taken in for questioning by a law enforcement officer in Arizona, the best thing you can do for yourself is to use your right to remain silent. If you lie to a police officer or make a false report during an interview or after an arrest, you could face criminal charges. State law makes false reporting a crime in Arizona.
What Is False Reporting?
Arizona Revised Statutes Section 13-2907.01 states that it is unlawful to knowingly make a false, fraudulent or unfounded report or statement to a law enforcement agency or to knowingly misrepresent a fact for the purpose of interfering with an investigation or misleading an officer. Making a false report is a class 1 misdemeanor crime in Arizona.
False reporting can mean lying to a police officer, such as knowingly misrepresenting how many drinks you had during a traffic stop for an alleged DUI. If it is discovered that you knowingly gave a falsehood to a law enforcement officer during questioning, you could face charges for false reporting – even if you don’t get charged for the original crime for which you were stopped.
False reporting can also refer to filing an unfounded police report. Knowingly fabricating a scenario that would require police intervention, such as domestic violence, is false reporting under Arizona law. Finally, knowingly lying to a police officer for the purpose of misleading or interfering with an investigation is the crime of false reporting.
Note that while you could face criminal charges for lying to a police officer, there are no ramifications for the police lying to you. Law enforcement officers have the right to lie to you as a witness or suspect, and often do so to get information out of detainees. Rather than admitting anything or giving away any information during a police interview (and rather than lying), use your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
What Are the Penalties for False Reporting?
Being convicted of false reporting in Arizona can result in penalties such as up to $2,500 in fines (plus surcharges) and/or up to six months in jail. You may also be ordered to carry out up to three years of probation, as well as community service. Since false reporting is considered a crime of dishonesty, this could lead to potential problems in your future. This type of misdemeanor on your record could interfere with professional licensing, applying for loans and your immigration status.
How a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Arizona Can Defend You for False Reporting Charges
If you get arrested or are detained for questioning by law enforcement in Arizona, the best way to protect yourself is by using your right to remain silent. Do not say anything or answer any police questions (other than giving your name) until you have a criminal defense attorney present in the room with you. This can protect you from saying something self-incriminating.
If you do make the mistake of lying to a police officer, below are some potential defenses to a false reporting charge:
- The statement cannot be proven as false beyond a reasonable doubt.
- The prosecutors have insufficient evidence against you.
- You made the statement under a good faith belief that it was true.
- You made the false statement to someone other than a law enforcement authority.
- The police violated your Miranda rights or right to counsel.
- The police committed entrapment.
A skilled defense attorney can poke holes in the prosecutor’s case against you using a personalized defense strategy. Your lawyer will look for ways to have the charges against you dismissed or reduced, such as negotiating a plea deal or arguing against your charges in court. An attorney can also work to protect you from the worst possible penalties if you get convicted of false reporting.
For more information about a defense against false reporting charges, contact The Law Offices of John Phebus for a free consultation with an Arizona criminal defense lawyer.