The police have a very important job; that is to protect the citizens of New Jersey and our communities from criminal activity. You know that when there has been a crime, you should call the police and file a report. However, a problem arises for the police when they spend their time and energy investigating a crime that did never occurred. Filing a false police report is a serious matter and one that can result in a lengthy prison sentence thousands of dollars in fines.
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.
What is the Charge of Filing a False Police Report?
Falsely reporting a crime to a police officer is a very serious charge. Legislators in New Jersey have been pushing for tougher punishments for such offense because it has been seen as an abuse of valuable public resources and can endanger the welfare of the community because it distracts police from investigating other criminal activity. In New Jersey, there are two ways for the State to charge someone under N.J.S.A. 2C:28-4. The first way a false report charge arises is where someone falsely incriminates another person. The second way 2C:28-4 can apply is where a defendant files a fictitious police report or statement.
Providing a False Accusation Under 2C:28-4(a). If you are charged with providing a false accusation the state will have to prove four elements in order to convict you. The statute provides “A person who knowingly gives or causes to be given false information to any law enforcement officer with purpose to implicate another commit a crime of the fourth degree.” See 2C:28-4(a)
To convict someone under N.J.S.A. 2C:28-4(a) for falsely incriminating another person, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:
(2) Gave or caused to be given false information;
(3) To any law enforcement officer; and
(4) Did so with the purpose to implicate another.
This charge in its simplest form is when a person falsely incriminates another person for a crime. It is important to note that this applies to filing a report when there was no criminal activity whatsoever, and does not generally apply if the person was found not guilty by a court of law.
Providing a Fictitious Report Charge Under 2C:28-4(b) – Providing a fictitious report is another form of filing a false report that can lead to severe consequences. Under 2C:28-4(b) A person commits a disorderly person offense if he:
- Reports or causes to be reported to law enforcement authorities an offense or another incident within their concern knowing that it did not occur; or
- Pretends to furnish or causes to be furnished such authorities with information related to an offense or incident when he knows he has no information relating to such offense or incident.
What are the Penalties for the Providing a False Report?
Because the legislature has determined that there are two separate offenses of different degrees, there are different penalties for each of these offenses.
If a person is Providing a False Accusation Under 2C:28-4(a) it will be deemed a crime of the fourth degree. In New Jersey, this is a rather serious offense and carries severe consequences. If you are convicted of fourth-degree false reporting, then you can face up to eighteen (18) months of imprisonment. Because the legislature have noted that providing a false accusation subjects the wrongly accused to the prosecution, they have also attached a steep monetary fine to this offense. If you are convicted you can face a fine as high as $10.000. In addition, it is very likely that you will have to pay court costs along with these fines.
N.J.S.A. 2C:28-4(b), notes that making a fictitious report is considered to be a disorderly persons offense is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 6 months in the county jail. Moreover, you may be sentenced to pay a fine of up to $1,000 A person convicted of providing false reports to officials can be subject to a fine up to $1,000. This also does not take into account other court imposed sanctions such as court costs, a VCCB fine of $50, a Safe Neighborhood Services Fund of $75, and community service.
While it is not a true penalty, if you are convicted of either providing a false accusation or providing a fictitious charge then you will also have a criminal record which is its own form of punishment. A criminal record can haunt you for years making it difficult to find employment, find housing, apply for licenses, and even get into school. While there is a legal method of removing your criminal record from general review, known as an expungement, it is not immediately available in most cases. There is a five-year waiting period to expunge a conviction for making false reports to officials.
Work with a South Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney
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. A South Jersey criminal defense attorney of the Law Firm of John J. Zarych can bring decades of practical experience to your matter. To schedule a free legal consultation call 800-508-9786 or contact us online.