If you are questioned by a law enforcement officer on the street after being pulled over in a vehicle, it is not uncommon to be nervous. Depending on why you are being pulled over just may persuade you how you will answer when questioned by police. Imagine driving on I4 enjoying your afternoon, and then you see blue and red lights flashing behind you. You pull over to the side of the road and the police officer walks up to your side of the window. You begin panicking for various possible reasons; your license is suspended, you have a firearm in the car, a warrant out for your arrest, or you even have drugs in the car. Now, how you respond to the officer’s questioning may affect if you are charged with providing false information to law enforcement. A charge of providing false information to law enforcement results from lying to law enforcement.
Under Florida law, Section 837.05, states that “a person who knowingly gives false information to a law enforcement officer concerning the alleged commission of any crime, commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.” If this is your first offense, for False Information it is a first-degree misdemeanor. If convicted, can result in penalties of up to 1 year in jail or 12 months of probation, and up to a $1,000 fine. A second offense for providing False Information is classified as a third-degree felony, with possible penalties of up to 5 years in prison or 5 years of probation, and up to a $5,000 fine. In addition, a person who knowingly provides false information concerning a Capital Felony commits a felony of the third degree which may result in penalties of up to 5 years in prison 5 years of probation, and a $5,000 fine.
In order to be convicted of providing false information to law enforcement the prosecution must establish two elements beyond a reasonable doubt. To establish that the accused provided false information the state must prove that the accused knowingly and willfully gave false information about an alleged commission of a crime to a law enforcement officer.
If you are charged with giving false information to a law enforcement officer, there are defenses that may be asserted. Some defenses include:
- Proving the report was not false. When contrary evidence can be provided that supports a defendant’s version of the events, this may be grounds to show the report has not been proven false.
- Mistaken belief. A defendant can assert he or she did not know the information they provided was not true. If the false information was given under mistaken belief, it is likely the prosecution cannot obtain a conviction.
- Unaware the individual was a law enforcement officer. Providing false information is only a crime in certain circumstances. If the accused did not know the person they were speaking with was a police officer (i.e. an undercover cop) or the accused did not intend for it to be disseminated to police, it would be difficult for prosecutors to obtain a conviction.
As this article stated, there are many defenses to the charge of giving a police officer false information. Every case is different and each case is fact-specific. This means we must look into what the individual charged was thinking at the time, what situation they were in, and how law enforcement revealed themselves to the charged individual. There are many questions to be asked to obtain a solid defense.
If you have or know anyone who has been accused of providing false information to a law enforcement officer regarding the commission of a crime, contact The Law Office of Adams & Luka, PA.