Making a false statement against another individual can land you in hot water. But can you go to jail for false accusations? In this article, we look at what is considered a false statement and the penalty for a false accusation.
What is a False Accusation?
False allegations are claims of wrongdoing that are factually unsupported or untrue. These are also known as false reports or false claims.
What are Some Reasons Why People Get Falsely Accused?
Before we discuss the penalty for making false accusations, it is essential to look at why people are falsely accused, as only some of these come with a criminal charge. Below are a few reasons why people are sometimes wrongly accused:
- Misrecollection – Where an accuser incorrectly recalls the details of a crime
- Mistaken identity – Where an accuser mistakenly identifies the incorrect person as having committed a crime.
- Misleading forensic evidence – Where experts exaggerate statistical claims, for instance, DNA or hair analysis or evidence is tampered with, compromised, or misread.
- Malicious false accusations – Where an accuser intentionally provides police officers with an incorrect statement about an individual committing an offense
- Official misconduct – When law enforcement officials or prosecutors commit an act of misconduct or abuse of power when charging an individual for a crime or by asking leading questions that coerce a detainee into having false recollections of an event
Giving a False Report to a Police Officer
A person can be charged with a crime for intentionally giving the police false information in connection with a traffic stop while the officer is performing his/her duties. Possible violations include any of the following:
- providing a false answer
- presenting false insurance documents
- offering a false vehicle registration
- or giving the officer a borrowed or fake driver’s license
A conviction for giving false information would be a misdemeanor with up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both. However, if the false information was offered in an effort to evade arrest, additional felony charges could be possible.
What Happens When Someone Accuses you of Something You Did Not Do?
If you are falsely accused of a crime, you will most likely have criminal charges brought against you. In this case, there are several things to do and ways to handle the situation:
- Realize the severity of the situation – Gain an understanding of the severity of the allegations and take the charges seriously.
- Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney – Do not attempt to remedy the situation alone. Instead, remain silent and hire legal counsel to guide you through the process, give you legal advice, and protect your rights.
- Conduct a pre-file investigation – Before charges are filed, your attorney will gather evidence favorable to the accused and investigate the allegations further. Doing this is an effective strategy to convince the District Attorney (DA) to drop any charges should the investigation bring to light the charges brought are false.
- Undermine the accuser’s credibility – By impeaching an accuser, your criminal defense attorney will ask the witness questions that undermine their reputation for truthfulness, casting doubt about whether what they claim they witnessed is, in fact, true.
- File a civil suit or malicious prosecution claim – Here, the falsely accused brings a civil lawsuit against the individual who wrongfully accused them and seeks compensation for damages.
- Private Polygraph – Taking a private polygraph to prove your innocence is another way to boost your defense and sway prosecutors into dropping the charges and prevent you from getting a criminal record.
What Are the Penalties for Making False Accusations?
So, can you get in trouble for false accusations, and is making false accusations a crime? Yes. In California, making false accusations is a crime and is considered a misdemeanor. But can you go to jail for false accusations? Yes, making false allegations could land you a fine, up to six months in prison, or both.
Can You Press Charges Against Someone for Making False Accusations?
Can false accusations get you arrested? Yes. Further, you can press charges against an individual who wrongfully accused you by bringing a civil lawsuit against them. However, you must show that the defendant filed a frivolous claim against you, that they caused damages due to their false claim, and that they filed their lawsuit for another purpose, like harassment.
Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer in California
Because you can go to jail for false accusations and just as easily have false allegations filed against you, having a criminal defense attorney is necessary. Contact us if you have questions about false reports or find yourself being wrongfully accused – we are here to help.