What Happens If A Person Lies To A Police Officer During An Investigation?

Recent developments in the Jessie Smollett attack have suggested the victim may have fabricated the story of the assault. If that turns out to be true and the evidence shows he intentionally lied to the police then he will probably be the one facing criminal charges.

What type of criminal charges does a person face in Texas if they intentionally lie to a police officer about facts in a criminal investigation? The typical charge is False Report to Peace Officer, Federal Special Investigator, or Enforcement Employee. That offense is a Class B misdemeanor and carries a penalty range of up to six months in the county jail and up to a $2,000 fine.

To commit this type of offense a person must act with intent to deceive and knowingly make a false statement that is material to a criminal investigation to a peace officer, federal special investigator any employee of a law enforcement agency that is authorized to conduct and investigation.

In reality charges are rarely brought under this statute. Threat of bringing this charge sometimes occurs in domestic violence cases when the victim doesn’t want to prosecute and tells the police or the prosecutor the original story wasn’t true. If the police or prosecutor wants to play hard ball they may threatened to bring a False Report to a Peace Officer charge.

Police often are lied to during their investigations, but the investigators usually don’t go forward with bringing charges. Since the punishment range in Texas is low, many detectives don’t want to put the time and effort into bringing this type of charge to court.

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