Making False Statements to the Police
When you lie to law enforcement, you put your future at risk. Making false statements to law enforcement can come with serious consequences. Just ask Trump’s former national security advisor, Michael Flynn. After lying to the FBI, Flynn learned that lying to law enforcement is a serious offense. Find out what happened to Flynn and why you should be careful about making false statements to the police.
Lying on a Federal Level
While making false statements to any law enforcement agent is a serious offense, lying to the FBI is particularly dangerous. Michael Flynn is a prime example of that. When the FBI asked him about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, Flynn lied. It’s not surprising that he lied – he attempted to cover any connections between Trump and Russia. However, making false statements hurt him more than telling the truth would have hurt him.
By lying to the FBI, Michael Flynn broke a law. Now, he could serve up to five years in prison. However, he could face an even harsher sentence. The court is a federal court. As such, the judge can choose to issue a lighter or harsher sentence than the guidelines dictate. Flynn could spend years in prison for lying to the FBI.
Making False Statements on a State Level
If you lie to local police, then you could face charges for making false statements in your state court. Much like the federal charges, the consequences are serious. But before you learn about the penalties, you need to understand the crime.
What Does it Mean to Make False Statements?
Making false statements to the police can mean a number of things. For example, it could mean that you lied about your whereabouts during a crime. Or, it could mean that you lied about being a witness to an incident.
For an example of a false statement, consider this Rhode Island incident. When David Pastore told Rhode Island police that someone stabbed him, he lied. There was no violent person to blame for his wounds. Instead, Pastore only had himself to blame. His wound was self-inflicted. After Pastore admitted to making false statements, the police arrested him.
In any case, it could be lying if you knew that you were making a false statement. The statement does not need to be verbal. It could also be one that you wrote down. Whether you lied to a jury, police, or prosecutors, your lie could have legal consequences. You might think that lying is protecting you or someone else. However, it could hurt you more in the end.
The penalties for making false statements vary depending on your state’s laws. Every state has different laws and penalties for breaking those laws. However, every state takes lying to the police seriously.
In Rhode Island, the penalty is as much as one year in prison. In addition to that prison time, you could get a fine of up to $500. If the judge believes that you owe the victim restitution, then you could also be responsible for that. The penalty in Massachusetts is very similar. You could face a prison sentence of up to one year. There is also a fine. However, the fine is a minimum of $100 and a maximum of $500.
Before a judge issues a sentence, he considers several factors. First, he might consider your criminal history. If you have no prior incidents, then the judge might issue you a more favorable sentence. He also could consider your intentions. For example, trying to obstruct an investigation intentionally could result in a harsh sentence. Meanwhile, trying to protect yourself or a loved one by lying could result in a less serious sentence.
Defending the Charges
If you get a conviction for making false statements, then your future is at risk. You need to do what you can to fight the charges. Typically, that means hiring a defense attorney with experience. Your lawyer can develop a strategy that protects you from the harsh consequences of a conviction.
One of the most common defenses is to argue that an individual thought the claim was true. If there is evidence that shows that you believed your claim to be true, then the prosecutor has no case. One of the requirements of a false report charge is the intention to make a false report. If your lie was a result of accident or negligence, then you can beat the charges.
A conviction follows you around for years. When people do a background check on you, they can learn about your conviction. This closes many doors. After you serve your time and pay your fine, you could face other consequences. You might not find any employer willing to hire you. Even housing can be hard to find with a conviction. Contact a lawyer to prevent getting a bad outcome for your court case.