In the aftermath of an attack, it can be difficult for victims to accurately describe the events that took place. Shock, fear and the sense of being overwhelmed can cause small inconsistencies or misunderstandings. While these cases are understandable, some people knowingly give law enforcement officers false information and with ill intent. In these cases, prosecutors can charge the person with a crime.
Penalty for Filing a False Police Report in Texas
Section 37.08 of the Texas Penal Code classifies filing a false police report as a Class B misdemeanor. In Texas, that means that this crime carries a maximum sentence of 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. While this charge is the standard for making a false report to a peace officer in Texas, some other types of lying are technically different crimes and carry other sentences.
For example, if someone falsely reports a missing person, it is a Class C misdemeanor. Someone convicted of a crime at this level is only responsible for paying a fine of up to $500 with no jail time. On the other end of the spectrum, lying under oath is a felony. So, if you were to file a false police report and then carry on the lie under oath during official proceedings, you could face up to 10 years in jail with a $10,000 fine.
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What Counts as Filing a False Police Report?
Misstatements and misunderstandings are not criminal. In fact, there is a strict threshold for charging someone with filing a false police report for domestic violence, sexual assault and any other crime. To be convicted of this crime, you must have intended to deceive and knew that what you reported was false. Furthermore, you must have made the false claim to a law enforcement officer who has the power to conduct investigations.
Is it a Felony to Pull a Fire Alarm in Texas?
The classic childhood prank of pulling the fire alarm at school when there is no fire is not a harmless way to get out of a test. In Texas, it's a felony. Texas Penal Code § 42.06 differentiates these false alarms from filing a false police report. Pulling a fire alarm, shouting "fire" in a crowded restaurant or calling in a bomb threat when there is no fire or bomb present is a Class A misdemeanor. Similarly, calling the emergency line when there is no emergency is illegal. Pulling alarms and false 911 calls carry a penalty in Texas of up to one year behind bars or a $4,000 fine.
However, if someone makes a false alarm in a school or place of public services, such as a courthouse or public bus, the crime is elevated to a state jail felony. If you get convicted of a crime at this level, you could face up to two years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Filing a false police report in Texas is a Class B misdemeanor that carries a sentence of up to 180 days in jail or a $2,000 fine or both.
Mackenzie Maxwell has always been interested in law, working with legal issues since 2010. She served in Congress for some time, as part of the communications team for Silvestre Reyes and helped constituents understand the laws on the House floor. She stayed active in local politics to understand the laws that govern her area. As a writer, Mackenzie has worked with several lawyers to create thoughtful, helpful content.