If you have ever been formally interrogated, or even spoke with police officers informally in the course of a case investigation, you know that it can be a harrowing experience. You’ll want to get it over quickly, clear your name and move along. There is often a temptation to say things which are untrue or less than the whole truth in these situations, if only to get the officer off your back and give you some more time to think. However, these falsehoods or withholding of information can be far more trouble than they are worth and come back to bite you in the end.
Multiple areas of law touch on false incrimination of another person, as well as lying to law enforcement and tampering with the evidence of an ongoing case. They carry steep penalties that can follow you for long after the case itself has come to an end. Let’s look at some of them more closely.
False Incrimination: This means telling an officer that another individual committed a crime when you know that they did not. It’s a fourth degree offense, known in other jurisdictions as a fourth degree felony.
Filing a Fictitious Police Report: This includes both reporting a crime that you know did not occur, and giving false information in the filing of a report that either does not exist or is otherwise inaccurate. In both circumstances you will have to have known that the information you are suppling is false. It is a disorderly person’s offense, a misdemeanor in other areas.
Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution: There are many ways this could happen, including; hiding people from the police, destroying evidence, and giving false information to a law enforcement officer. Even if you are just trying to help out a friend or relative, you have a legal duty to report their whereabouts and anything you know about the case. These are also disorderly person’s offenses or fourth, third, or second degree felonies.
Tampering with Public Records or Information. This is defined as making, presenting, or using any record or document knowing it to be false. That includes using a fake ID for alcohol if you are under 21, or presenting someone else’s ID as your own. It is a disorderly person’s offense, but can be upgraded if the intent was to injure or defraud another.
Tampering with Witnesses and Informants. If you take any action to cause a witness to give false testimony, or prevent them from giving their testimony, you are guilty of this crime. Ways in which this can be done include bribes and threats. It is always an indictable crime, ranging from the third to fourth degree.
What if I’ve already done this? If you have committed any of the above crimes, or are being accused or charged of doing so, you will want to get an experienced lawyer on your side right away. My name is David C. Barry, Attorney at Law, and I have worked extensively for over 27 years practicing criminal defense in New Jersey including all of the above crimes of falsehoods to law enforcement. For more information about how I can help with your case, give me a call today at 732-238-8686.