Posted on September 18, 2015

California Penal Code § 148.5(a): False Police Report of a Crime

In California, P.C. § 148.5(a) defines the offense of making a false police report of a crime which states, “Every person who reports to any peace officer, attorney general, or deputy attorney general, or a district attorney, or a deputy district attorney that a felony or misdemeanor has been committed, knowing the report to be false, is guilty of a misdemeanor.” There are a number of reasons for someone to file a false report against someone else. Most situations involve child custody disputes or victims of alleged domestic violence who exaggerate the circumstances for revenge purposes. Prosecutors have the challenge of proving that you “knowingly” made a false police report, much of which could be speculative. Usually a detective will call you and question the validity of your claims if you’re suspected of filing a false report. The detective usually questions you in an effort to prove your allegations to be false while simultaneously build a case against you using your incriminating statements. If you’re suspected of making a false report, you should not make any statement to law enforcement and contact a criminal defense attorney at the earliest possible juncture. If convicted of filing a false report, you face a maximum of 6 months in the county jail. The court will also impose probation, counseling classes, and community service or community labor. In addition, the court may impose restitution and court fines.

Elements of the Crime

In order to prove that you are guilty of making a false police report under Penal Code § 148.5(a), the prosecutor must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. Defendant filed a report with a peace officer, district attorney, or attorney general;
2. Defendant knew the report to be false.

Legal Defenses

• The evidence obtained against you was in violation of your Fifth Amendment right under the U.S. Constitution (Miranda warning admonishment).

• The evidence obtained against you was in violation of your Fourth Amendment right of the U.S. Constitution (unreasonable search and seizure).

• You did not know the report was false.

• You were coerced or threatened to file the report.

• The police are fabricating or exaggerating the circumstances against you.

• The allegations you made were true.

Making a False Report Expungement

criminal-background

If you’ve been convicted of filing a false police report then you may be eligible to expunge your conviction under Penal Code § 1203.4. To obtain this relief, you must have completed all your probation time, obeyed all orders from the court, and paid all outstanding fines and fees. Once you complete your probation time then you may petition the court to withdraw its finding of guilt, a not guilty will then be entered, and the judge will dismiss the case pursuant to the P.C. § 1203.4 statute. From that point forward, you will be released from all “penalties and disabilities” as a result of the conviction. However, if you suffer from a probation violation then the chances of obtaining an expungment reduce significantly. If you are seeking to expunge your criminal record for making a false police report then contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers to discuss your eligibility.

Examples

Dana was in a child custody dispute with her ex-husband. Because Dana was fearful that her husband had a viable claim for full custody of her children, she decided to file a police report with the Los Angeles police department claiming that her ex-husband abuses drugs and she personally witnessed her husband strike the children. Dana did this in an effort to have her ex-husband arrested and charged with a crime so she can better her chances of obtaining a favorable ruling in family custody court. In this case, Dana would be guilty of making a false report because she knowingly made a report of false information in an effort to better her chances of gaining full custody of her children.

Dan’s son came home one day stating that his teacher touched him wrong. Dan thinking that the teacher was engaging in illegal activity with the students, went to the local Los Angeles police department to file a police report claiming that his son’s teacher had struck or sexually touched his child. After filing the police report, the report was then forwarded to an investigating detective. After a full investigation, it was determined that his son’s teacher grabbed him by the arm after Dan’s son got into a fight with another student. The investigation revealed that his son’s teacher acted reasonably under the circumstances and there was no improper touching. The police then arrest Dan for making a false police report. In this case, Dan would not be guilty of making a false report because he did not file the report knowing that it was false. Dan may have been premature in filing the report without first ascertaining all the facts but he will argue that he merely brought up the incident to the police to investigate his son’s accusations further. Furthermore, Dan will claim that he was a concerned parent and believed that a law enforcement investigation was necessary to examine the reasonableness of the teacher’s conduct.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one has been arrested, charged, or under investigation for filing a false police report under California P.C. § 148.5(a), contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney John Rogers at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers. Call 877-888-9820 for a free confidential consultation concerning your rights and defenses.

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