The police in many jurisdictions including New Jersey, are often over-burdened by their policing activities. In light of New Jersey’s dense population and numerous towns, cities, and boroughs policing resources are often spread thin. Therefore police rely on the public to file reports and to keep them apprised of criminal acts and developments. However, there are many other reasons other than an ongoing crime as why an individual would file a police report. For instance, following a car accident a driver may file a report in expectation of the impending insurance claim. In other situations the victim of a crime, such as domestic violence, may file a report in anticipation of an upcoming hearing for a TRO or other proceeding. Therefore, in some cases there is a powerful incentive to file a police report and document the behavior that occurred. Based on these incentives, the police may come to believe that the report was false and self-serving. They may think the report was intended to deflect suspicion or to pave the way in a future legal proceeding.
If you have been charged with filing a false police report in New Jersey, you face serious penalties. Furthermore, your credibility and good name are on the line. If you are charged with filing a false report with the police contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today to speak with a false report defense attorney today. To schedule a free consultation call (609) 616-4956 or contact us online.
Is Filing a False Police Report a Crime?
While most people recognize that filing a police report that is untrue is ethically suspect, many are surprised to learn that filing a false report is against the law. Like many crimes in New Jersey, filing a false police report can be charged in multiple degrees depending on the severity of the alleged conduct.
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:28-4(a) False Reports to Law Enforcement Authorities any person who falsely incriminates another can be charged with a fourth-degree indictable offense. An indictable offense is similar to a felony in New Jersey. The statute states:
A person who knowingly gives or causes to be given false information to any law enforcement officer with purpose to implicate another commits a crime of the fourth degree.
Thus, there is the mens rea element that the person knowingly, meaning he or she is aware that the circumstances exist or aware that a high probability of the circumstances exist. The state must also show that the person had the intent to falsely accuse another person of a crime.
This offense can also be charged at the disorderly persons level when
(a) Reports or causes to be reported to law enforcement authorities as offense or other incident within their concern knowing that it did not occur; or
(b) Pretends to furnish or causes to be furnished such authorities with information relating to an offense or incident when he knows he has no information relating to such offence or incident.
Thus there are two circumstances where a person can face the lower level of making a false report to law enforcement. The first occurs when a person reports or induces another to report an incident or offense. The other circumstance boils down to an individual who wastes the time of law enforcement agents by pretending to have information about an offense or incident when he or she does not.
What Penalties can I Face for Filing a Fake Police Report?
In New Jersey, a fourth-degree indictable offense is a crime carrying serious consequences. A defendant who is convicted of a fourth-degree indictable offense can be sentenced to serve up to eighteen months in state prison. A fine up to $10,000 can also be imposed. For the disorderly persons version of the offense, the possibility of facing up to six months in jail exists. In most cases, due to the presumption against incarceration for first-time offenders, a jail term will not be ordered. However, it is important to note that a disorderly persons offense is a crime and will result in a criminal record.
Work With a Atlantic City Criminal Defense Lawyer When You Are Charged with a Crime
If you have been charged with a crime and face the possibility of a prison sentence, it is important to force the prosecutor and police to prove each and every element of the crime. An Atlantic City criminal defense attorney of the Law Firm of John J. Zarych can bring decades of practical experience to your matter. To schedule a free and confidential legal consultation call (609) 616-4956 or contact us online.