What Legal Action Can I Take Against Someone Making False Police Reports?

By John Toivonen
What, I, Someone, False Police Reports

Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images

If someone files a false police police report against you, there are three steps you should take. One: Stop associating with the person. Two: Tell the authorities you want to press criminal charges. Three: If the person has money, file a defamation lawsuit.

Stay Away From the Person

Often, false police reports are filed by disgruntled family members or friends. While we have all done something to anger someone, filing a false police report is a crime, and anyone who does this to you should be crossed of your list. If the person attempts to contact you, you should tell him or her to stay away. If the person persists in contacting you, consider getting a protective order from a court.

Press Charges

The severity of the penalty may influence your decision to press charges. In South Carolina, the offender can spend up to five years in prison. In Virginia, the crime is a misdemeanor with a maximum jail time of one year. You will want to balance your need for justice with the penalty the offender will receive and the time you will spend pursuing the action. If the person is likely to spend just a few days in jail and you were released in an hour after being held on the false accusation, you may not want to spend time in court. But if the false report was of a felony charge and you have suffered greatly on account of the person's lie, then moving forward in the courts is probably a good move. Meet with an assistant district attorney to discuss the time you will have to spend on the action, what the chances are of the offender being convicted, and what penalty the offender may receive.

Sue the Person

While pressing criminal charges may be a good idea, perhaps the best move is to sue someone who has damaged your reputation. Defamation is the communication of a false statement to other people which is likely to harm a person's reputation. The false claim that you have committed a crime against a person will meet the legal requirement for defamation. But you should sue only if the defendant is what attorneys call a “collectable” defendant: one who has enough money to give you a good payoff. Obviously, you will want to speak with an attorney before proceeding down this road. While many attorneys will relish a defamation case, he or she will probably not want to gamble on one where there the defendant has few assets. If the defendant is rich, the attorney will probably charge a contingency fee which will give the attorney a percentage of the final damage award. The most common contingency fee is one-third of the award. But if your case is not strong or the defendant has few assets, you may have to pay by the hour. Paying an attorney $200 or more an hour to sue someone with no money is not wise unless you are someone with very deep pockets and you want vindication.

About the Author

John Toivonen is an attorney in Lansing, Mich., and has been a professional writer since 1999. His work has appeared in "The Washington Times." He holds a Juris Doctor from Thomas M. Cooley Law School and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Guilford College.