Lying to the Police in Florida

When someone encounters the cops for whatever reason, it’s not uncommon for them to experience a rush of adrenaline. Their heart races, their breathing becomes more rapid, and sometimes, their mind goes blank.

When questioned by a police officer, such a person may not know how to answer the questions “right” or out of fear of being arrested, they may intentionally lie. Sometimes, people will lie to the cops when they’re not even suspects. They’ll lie to protect a friend or they’ll lie because they’re afraid the real suspect will come after them for “snitching.”

Is It Illegal to Lie to the Cops?

While it may seem like a witness is protecting themselves, or saving someone’s life to lie to the cops, it’s not a good idea. Why? Because, whenever someone lies to the police or a detective, they can get themselves in serious legal trouble. While the Fifth Amendment can save people from self-incrimination, also known as the “right to remain silent,” it does not give suspects or witnesses or anybody else the legal right to lie to the police. “But what about my personal freedom of speech?” Nope, that doesn’t protect you either.

Often, people lie to the police because they are: 1) afraid the real suspect will retaliate and hurt them or someone they love, 2) guilty and don’t want to get arrested for a crime they committed, or 3) covering up for someone so they don’t get in trouble.

Usually, the motivation of someone who is lying to the cops is to protect themselves from a criminal, protect a criminal from being caught, or prevent the cops from getting enough evidence to arrest them. Whether or not someone is afraid of angering the actual criminal, being perceived as a snitch, or getting themselves in hot water, it’s against the law to lie to the police or otherwise obstruct a criminal investigation.

False Reports to Law Enforcement Authorities

Under Section 837.05 of the Florida Statutes, False reports to law enforcement authorities, it’s against the law to knowingly give false information to a law enforcement officer regarding an alleged crime.

  • A first offense under Sec. 837.05 is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000, and by not more than one year in jail.
  • A second offense under Sec. 837.05 is a felony of the third degree, punishable by a fine not to exceed $5,000, and by not more than five years in prison.

Not all lies or “false reports” are treated equally in Florida. Under Sec. 837.05(2) it reads: “A person who knowingly gives false information to a law enforcement official concerning the alleged commission of a capital felony, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to a $5,000 fine, and up to five years in prison.

What is a capital felony? This is the most serious type of felony that someone can commit, and generally refers to murders where the offender intended to kill a victim, and actually killed them, but sometimes it was an attempted killing. Capital felonies in Florida are punishable by death since Florida does have the death penalty.

Did You Lie to the Police for a Friend?

In criminal investigations, it’s not uncommon to see people lie to the police about a crime their friend committed. As mentioned earlier, if you lie to the police about a crime a friend committed, you can be charged under Sec. 837.05.

As a general rule, you are not required to talk to the police, whether you’re being questioned casually, or more formally at the police station with the cameras recording. But, if you do decide to talk to the police, you need to be honest because there are serious consequences for lying. If you lie about a crime you witnessed or a crime your friend committed, you could end up facing criminal charges yourself.

Have you misled or lied to the authorities and now you’re being charged with a crime? If so, you need to consult with a Brandon criminal defense attorney. Contact Thomas & Paulk, P.A. to request a free initial consultation.

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