Definition of Giving False Information
Under Section 837.05(1), Florida Statutes, it is a criminal offense for a person to knowingly give to a law enforcement or police officer false information regarding the commission of a crime. This offense is commonly confused with “False Report of a Crime,” which applies where the alleged crime reported did not actually occur. In a prosecution for Giving False Information Concerning the Commission of a Crime, a crime actually occurs, but the accused knowingly gives false information concerning it.
To prove the offense of Giving False Information, the prosecution must establish the following five elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The accused knowingly gave information about the alleged commission of a crime;
- The accused knew the information was false;
- The accused gave the false information to a person;
- The person to whom the information was given was a law enforcement officer;
- The accused knew that the person was a law enforcement officer.
Penalties for Giving False Information
Under Florida law, Giving False Information is a first degree misdemeanor, with penalties of up to 1 year in jail. If the false information concerns the commission of a capital felony, the offense may be classified as a third degree felony, with penalties that may include up to 5 years in prison.
Defenses to Giving False Information to Police
There are many defenses available to contest a charge of Giving False Information Concerning a Crime, or “lying to police.” First and foremost, the prosecution must prove that the information was in fact “false.” This is often difficult to do where the facts are not clearly established with regard to the underlying incident. For example, if the charge is based on accused’s rendition of an event, such as a fight, genuine questions may exist as to what actually happened. If this is the case, proving falsity beyond a reasonable doubt will be difficult, if not impossible for the prosecution.
Moreover, the prosecution must establish the accused’s knowledge of the falsity of the information. This can sometimes be difficult if the accused gave information that he or she thought was the truth or thought was reliable. If the accused can demonstrate a basis for his or her beliefs, then knowledge of falsity will be difficult to prove. Even if the accused was careless or reckless in making a statement or assertion, this does not amount to “knowledge” of the falsity of the information.
These are just a few of the defenses that may be raised in these types of cases. If you have been accused of giving false information to law enforcement concerning the commission of a crime, or “lying” to police, contact Hussein & Webber, PL to discuss your legal options. All consultations with our Jacksonville Defense Attorney are free and confidential.