Missouri laws prohibit the act of knowingly giving false information to a police officer for any reasons, and the offense can lead to criminal charges. Giving false information is simply lying to the authorities. It could be a police officer, a prosecutor, a judge, or an emergency line operator. For instance, calling for the arrest of your wife or husband claiming that he or she physically assaulted you when he or she actually never did qualifies as giving false information. Under MO Rev Stat 575.080, is a person is guilty of providing false information if he or she knowingly:
- Gives false statements to a law enforcement officer who is conducting an investigation with the intention of obstructing justice.
- Provides false information to a law enforcement officer with the intention of implicating another person in an offense.
- Provides false information to a police officer that a crime has been committed or is about to be committed.
- Provides false information or causes false information to be made to a police officer or an officer dealing with emergencies that an incident requiring an emergency response has occurred or is about to occur.
There are specific elements that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for a person to be convicted of providing false information to a police officer in Missouri. These facts include:
- The defendant purposely gave false information about the alleged commission of an offense and he or she knew the information was false.
- The defendant provided false statements with the intention of obstructing justice.
- The defendant should have reasonably known that the person whom they gave false information was a police officer.
- The police officer was carrying out his or her lawful duties as per the law.
Typically, providing false information is a class B misdemeanor. If a person is found guilty after trial or pleads guilty, they could face a fine not exceeding $1000 and a jail term of up to 6 months. In some instances, Missouri courts may place the offender on probation with no jail time at all.
However, the penalty for giving lying to an officer in Missouri can vary depending on the defendant’s criminal history, the extent of damage caused by the lie, and the circumstances around the incident. In addition, the offense could result in civil suits if the report results in the damage of another person’s reputation, or where insurance interests are involved.
False reports which cause immense confusion, harm, and inconveniences could lead to felony charges. Besides, lying with the intention of covering another felony charge is considered a felony and could attract other charges. Missouri statutes consider felonies more serious crimes which are punishable by substantial fines and a prison sentence above one year.
However, if a person gives false information to an officer and retracts the information before the police officer took substantial action, that person won’t be deemed to have committed an offense.
A conviction of giving false information to a police officer in Missouri remains on the offender’s record permanently.
Some of the possible defenses for a defendant accused of giving the police false information are; (i) he or she did not make a false report; (ii) he or she believed the report was true at the time of making the report; or (iii) it was a case of mistaken identity.
If you are charged with giving false information, whether you did it intentionally or not, it’s advisable to speak to an attorney. While offenses involving false reports are serious cases, they can be handled successfully with the help of an attorney.