When law enforcement officers arrive on the scene of an alleged crime or accident, they will gather all of the information available and compile it into a police report. However, police reports can also be created when an individual approaches a police station or officer and reports a particular incident or crime. When such a report is filed, officers should look into the allegations, conduct an investigation, and pursue any arrests or charges if necessary. Doing all of this takes time, manpower, and other resources. Therefore, when law enforcement wastes its time by responding to a false report, they take such false claims very seriously.
You may wonder: why would anyone choose to pursue a false police report? There are several reasons why someone may knowingly make false claims to law enforcement, including the following:
- To divert suspicion from themselves or a friend or family member
- To gain an upper hand in a custody case or temporary restraining order hearing by alleging domestic abuse
- To allege fault in a car accident to avoid civil liability
Laws Against Filing a False Police Report
New Jersey has a specific law regarding filing a false police report, and the consequences for violating it can vary depending on the situation and the allegations made in the report. For example, the following three situations can result in a disorderly persons offense:
- Giving information to law enforcement officers about an incident or crime when you knowingly do not actually have such information
- Reporting an incident or crime that you know did not occur
- Causing another person to do either of the above
In addition to the above scenarios, the charges can be significantly more serious if your false claims actually incriminate another individual. If you knowingly try to falsely incriminate a specific person, you can face an indictable offense, which is comparable to a felony in other states. In addition to penalties imposed by the court, having a serious conviction on your record that involves fraudulent claims can have a substantial effect on your professional opportunities and your reputation.
Call for a Consultation with a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney
Whether charged as a disorderly persons offense or an indictable offense, filing a false report with law enforcement can result in serious and long-lasting penalties if you are convicted. Criminal defense lawyer David C. Barry knows how to effectively defend against these charges and help you make the right decisions in your case. If you are facing any type of criminal allegations, please contact the Law Office of David C. Barry for a consultation today.