What To Know About Falsely Reporting A Crime In Minnesota
A charge of falsely reporting a crime is taken very seriously in the state of Minnesota. The long-term consequences can have a negative impact, affecting a person’s life long into their future. Law enforcement and the judiciary consider serious consequences to be a reasonable deterrent for a crime that wastes precious resources and distracts investigative teams from pursuing real crimes that have taken place. If any of the following situations apply to you, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Actions Defined: Why would someone knowingly provide law enforcement with false information? Intentions of defendants vary. Here are some of the most common reasons for false reports:
- Interfere or disrupt a police investigation.
- Intimidate a witness.
- Minimize own guilt.
- Revenge against a personal antagonist.
False Information About Others: If a person provides false information to an on-duty police officer regarding a crime and the person or persons involved, there are certain conditions that make this a crime. It is not a crime to simply make a mistake or be wrong. However, if the false information given was for the express purpose that a law enforcement officer would act upon it, pursuing a false lead based on a false accusation of another person, a crime has been committed.
Criminal Defamation: Falsely reporting a crime against another is punished by Minnesota law as criminal defamation. When another person is falsely accused of a crime, it harms their reputation. This can be destructive in many ways. A falsely accused person could lose their job. Personal relationships can be destroyed. An innocent immigrant could face deportation. The stress of an investigation can aggravate existing health conditions or cause new ones to materialize. The disruption to a person falsely accused can also become a financial burden as they seek to defend themselves against a false charge.
The Crime Of Omission: Even purposely omitting facts that are relevant to a case can be argued as misleading investigators in certain situations. If the purpose of omission is to create a false impression about the nature of a person’s conduct, the act becomes an intentional false report. For example, if a person calls police to report that a neighbor threw a rock at their car but omits that the neighbor was mowing their lawn and the mower was the reason for the incident, a false criminal report has been filed.
Burden Of Proof: The burden of proof is upon law enforcement. To pursue a charge of falsely reporting a crime, law enforcement must meet two requirements:
- Knowledge: Evidence must prove that a defendant knew the information to be false.
- Intent: Evidence must prove that the intention of the defendant was for law enforcement to act upon the false information.
Penalties: A first-time charge of falsely reporting a crime is classified a misdemeanor. Any consecutive offense is a gross misdemeanor. Fines and jail time for either can be significant, up to $3,000 and one year in jail. In some cases, defendants have also been required to reimburse agencies for the cost of investigating the circumstances of a false report as well as pay punitive damages to those falsely accused.
There is also the penalty of social stigma that is often attached to anyone with a criminal record. This is a red flag for anyone being considered for rental housing, financial loan, credit or employment. Even a misdemeanor conviction can seriously complicate one’s life. Probation, rather than jail time, will also restrict where one can live, making it impossible to relocate for better opportunity or remain near loved ones and family.
Get An Attorney: If you are facing a criminal case of falsely reporting a crime in Minnesota, you need a defense team committed to fighting such a serious charge. If you have questions about this type of criminal charge, please contact us today. Our team of experienced criminal defense lawyers can review your case and inform you of your options.
The information presented in this article is not considered legal advice. Please contact our law office to speak to an attorney about your case.