Is It Illegal to File a False Police Report?

Is It Illegal to File a False Police Report

You can’t afford to go without experienced criminal defense. At Broden & Mickelsen, LLP, we tackle the tough cases.

For the past few weeks, all eyes have been on Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where top-ranked athletes from around the world competed in the Summer Olympic Games. It’s a dazzling spectacle of the pinnacle of sport, but it was not without its darker moments.

One incident has caused a great deal of embarrassment for the United States and the U.S. Swimming Team. Specifically, swimmer and 12-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte who claimed he and three of his teammates were robbed at gunpoint by men masquerading as police officers in a Rio neighborhood. It was a riveting account of a terrifying ordeal.

The only problem? It wasn’t true. At best, it was a gross exaggeration of reality. Many have claimed it was an outright lie. The international community has largely condemned Lochte for attempting to downplay his own bad behavior in favor of shifting the blame to an innocent business owner and tarnishing the reputation of Brazil, which has struggled to shrug off reports of high crime rates and an inability to effectively host the Games. Security footage shows the swimmers vandalizing a gas station and urinating around the building.

Later, Brazilian officials indicated they might pursue charges against Lochte and a teammate for giving false reports to investigators. According to the New York Times, the swimmers avoided prosecution by agreeing to donate money to a local charitable organization.

The case raises important questions about false police reports. Lochte and his teammates were fortunate, as filing a false report is a real crime that prosecutors abroad and at home take seriously.

The Penalties for Filing a False Report

Under the Texas penal code, there are several types of false report offenses. Depending on the nature of the crime, and the degree of deception intended by the person doing the reporting, the offenses range from a minor misdemeanor to a serious felony.

For example, perjuring yourself under oath in connection with an official proceeding is considered aggravated perjury – a third degree felony. Making a false report to the police is punishable as a Class B misdemeanor. If the report involves a missing child or missing person, however, it’s a Class C misdemeanor. Tampering with evidence is a felony crime under Texas law.

The possible consequences of lying to the police are serious. If convicted, offenders may be ordered to pay restitution for wasting police resources. Most police departments are strapped for money and officers. They operate on strict budgets, and they have little time to waste. Furthermore, a false report can result in an innocent person being targeted for prosecution. This can cause someone significant mental anguish, financial consequences, and severe embarrassment.

Making a false report can also cause the reporter substantial embarrassment, as Ryan Lochte recently discovered. News outlets claim most of his corporate sponsors have dropped him from lucrative endorsement deals, costing him millions of dollars. His image as a world class athlete has also suffered due to his false report. Undoubtedly, Mr. Lochte is now contrite. Unfortunately, the consequences of his actions are likely to haunt him for years to come. It remains to be seen whether he can rebuild his reputation.

Contact a Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer about Your Case

If you have been charged with a crime in Texas at the federal or state level, you can’t afford to go without experienced criminal defense. At Broden & Mickelsen, LLP, we tackle the tough cases. Give us a call today to learn how we can help you. Contact us or call 214-720-9552. You can also reach us through our online contact form.

Mick Mickelsen is a nationally recognized criminal trial attorney with more than 30 years of experience defending people charged with white-collar crimes, drug offenses, sex crimes, murder, and other serious state and federal offenses.