Providing false information to the police – As criminal defense attorneys, our default position is typically, “don’t talk to the police”. Especially if you have been charged or are suspected of a crime, you should not talk to the police. It is a fairly simple concept with many good reasons; however, people have a tough time following that advice. People always want to “clear things up” or “give their side of the story”.
That is a bad idea for many reasons – it is best to just keep your mouth shut. Another bad idea is lying to the police. Lying to the police can cause more problems. First, you will most likely still be incriminating yourself, and second, you open yourself up to additional charges. In this blog, we will talk about lying to the police. Like all our blogs, this is intended for general informational purposes only, and not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a criminal defense attorney.
False reports to law enforcement agencies or officers
In North Carolina, giving a false report to a police officer is covered under North Carolina General Statute 14-225. Under this law, it is illegal to “provide a false, deliberately misleading, or unfounded report for the purpose of interfering with a law enforcement agency, or to hinder or obstruct any law enforcement officer in the performance of his duty.”
This is generally punished as a Class 2 misdemeanor and follows the North Carolina misdemeanor sentencing guidelines. In some cases, such as when this happened in conjunction with the investigation regarding the disappearance of a child or the investigation of a Class A, B1, B2, or C felony, it is punished as a Class H felony, and follows the North Carolina felony sentencing guidelines.
To be clear, we never recommend lying to the police, and you don’t have to since there is a much simpler and easier way to make sure your constitutional rights are not violated.
Just keep your mouth shut, instead.
An individual never has to talk to the police, and they especially shouldn’t even if they are the target of a police investigation. Miranda warnings tell you that you have the right to remain silent, including the all important “anything you say can and will be used against you”. That is not an empty threat. Often in a criminal trial, the best evidence used against a defendant are his own statements.
People who panic while talking to law enforcement often experience that it is their first instinct to tell the police everything. Their next instinct is to lie and to provide false information – neither of these things must occur, nor should they occur. The only person you should speak to about your criminal charges is your attorney because you are protected by attorney-client privilege.
Criminal law is often complicated and confusing. If you have been charged with a crime in North Carolina or charged with a crime in South Carolina, contact us.