North Carolina Criminal Law 14-225: False Reports to Law Enforcement Agencies or Officers

You may be wondering if providing false information to law enforcement has consequences. While the default position of criminal defense lawyers is typically not to talk to the police, particularly if you’re suspected or have been charged with a crime, many people feel they need to give their side of the story or clear things up. This isn’t a good idea.
Another bad idea is giving police false reports or lying to them. Doing so can cause many issues. First, you’ll likely incriminate yourself even more and still be charged with the crime, and second, you’re opening yourself up to additional charges. If this occurs, you’ll want to consult a North Carolina criminal defense lawyer.

Components of False Reports to Police Officers or Law Enforcement Agencies in North Carolina

Making a false report to a police officer or law enforcement agency is a form of Obstruction of Justice. And, under North Carolina Law 14-225, it’s also considered a criminal offense. Depending on the type of false report or accusations, this offense can be either a Misdemeanor or a Felony.

North Carolina must prove that the defendant is guilty of providing a false report to officers or law enforcement agencies. Some things under 14-225 that the State must prove include:

  • The defendant purposefully or intentionally made a false statement or report, deliberately misleading or unfounded report
  • To a police officer or a law enforcement agency
  • With the intent to interfere with a police officer’s or law enforcement agency’s duties

The important difference between a false police report being a misdemeanor or a felony is that for it to be a felony, the false report or statement provided by the defendant must pertain to a child that is a victim of Class A, B1 or B2, or C felony offense or a child disappearing.

Exercising Your Constitutional Rights

It’s never recommended that you lie to law enforcement, and there is no need since there is a much easier and simpler way to ensure your constitutional rights aren’t violated. That is to keep your mouth closed and not say a word.

You do not have to talk with law enforcement, and you especially shouldn’t talk if you’re being targeted for a police investigation. In fact, Miranda warnings even tell you about your rights to remain silent, which includes that anything you say may very well be used against you (and it will). That’s not an empty threat. In criminal trials, the best evidence against defendants is frequently their own statements.

Individuals who panic while speaking with law enforcement frequently experience that it’s their gut instinct to tell law enforcement everything. Second is their gut instinct to provide false information or lie to the police. You should never do either one of these two things. An experienced North Carolina criminal defense lawyer should be the only individual who speaks about your criminal charges since you’re protected by the attorney-client privilege.

If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense in North Carolina, you should immediately contact a reputable criminal defense attorney. Criminal law is highly confusing and complicated. It’s never a good idea to navigate it on your own without legal representation.

Is Filing a False Report to Law Enforcement a Serious Crime in North Carolina?

While it might seem harmless to file a false police report, it can lead to serious charges. Individuals make false claims to police officers for various reasons. And, of the duties of police officers is to take all filed claims or reports seriously, whether honest or not. If an individual provides false information to law enforcement, it can hurt people or lead to other unforeseen consequences. Therefore, filing a false report to law enforcement in North Carolina can lead to serious criminal penalties.

Some reasons individuals may file a false police report include:

  • To cover up what occurred out of fear that it will lead to the individual being charged with a crime
  • To gain sympathy
  • To attempt to cover up or hide something they don’t want their family to find out about
  • To “get back” at another person that they’re angry with

For example, an individual may report to law enforcement that they were robbed in an attempt to explain the injuries they sustained while breaking into a store or to justify why they are out past curfew. They may believe that telling a “good story” to law enforcement will help them gain favors or attention from their family or friends. They may be angry enough with another person to make false allegations of abuse. It’s also quite possible that some individuals may want to tell officers a false story as a harmless prank.

Establishing Intent in a False Statement or Report Case

For the State to prove that a defendant provided false information that concerns the commission of a crime, it needs to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, these five elements:

  • The defendant knowingly provided false information regarding an alleged commission of a crime
  • The defendant knew it was false information they were providing
  • The defendant provided false information to a police officer or law enforcement agency
  • The police officer was definitely a police officer
  • The defendant definitely knew that this particular individual was a police officer

If you’re suspected of or have been charged with the crime of providing a false report to law enforcement, it’s imperative that you consult with an experienced NC criminal defense lawyer.

Contact the Skilled North Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyers at King Law Today

At King Law, our experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorneys will fight for you. We can establish a defense that is based on an error, where you didn’t know that you were providing false information or didn’t try to deceive law enforcement intentionally. For example, you might have been misinformed by another person and believed it to be true. We can also provide you with a defense based on information you didn’t provide to law enforcement, where you might have made a false statement to another person, or didn’t realize that the individual you were providing information to was a law enforcement officer. 

North Carolina has the heavy burden of proving every one of the elements beyond a reasonable doubt. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys at King Law will work diligently to counteract the State’s arguments. Call our law firm at (888) 748-5464 or (888) 748-KING or fill out the contact form on our website to schedule your initial consultation.