what happens if you lie to the police

Imagine you are pulled over by the police on a late Arizona evening. The officer asks you if you have had anything to drink. Trying to cover for yourself, you promptly reply that you have not. Events unfold quickly from there, and you fail a field sobriety test. Of course, a drinking and driving charge will be awaiting you, but can you also be charged for lying to the police?

Here is what Arizona law has to say on the matter.

Legal Consequences of Lying to a Police Officer

According to Arizona law and statute A.R.S. §13-2907.1, it is against the law to lie to a police officer or any law enforcement agency. The legal terminology for this behavior is called false reporting, which is a misdemeanor under Arizona law.

False reporting occurs when:

  • An Arizona resident makes a false statement to a law enforcement officer or agency
  • The Arizona resident knows that a fact is being misrepresented
  • The misrepresented fact prevents the “orderly operation” of a law enforcement officer

For the average Arizona resident, this violation occurs when they lie to an officer about possessing and/or illegally consuming alcohol or drugs. Other behaviors apply too, of course, such as giving a false name to a law enforcement agency or police officer.

False reporting under A.R.S. §13-2907.1 is categorized as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Possible punishments for a Class 1 misdemeanor charge and conviction include:

  • Up to 3 years of probation
  • Up to a $2,500 fine
  • A maximum sentence of 6 months in jail

Beyond the immediate legal consequences of a conviction, the lasting effects of a misdemeanor could be even more impactful to your life goals and plans. A misdemeanor conviction can ultimately become a part of your permanent record. If you plan on going into fields like nursing or the legal field, a misdemeanor conviction is an issue that may never go away.

As such, you need an Arizona criminal defense lawyer who will raise legal defenses on your behalf that give you the best chance of having a false reporting charge reduced or dismissed.

Legal Defenses to a False Reporting Charge

There are a number of pertinent legal defenses an attorney may be able to raise on your behalf to make the legal troubles of a false reporting charge go away. In certain instances, this charge can be tacked on when a police officer infers that the individual has lied. If an Arizona driver claims they had one beer, but their BAC was above the legal limit, then an officer may decide to cite them for false reporting in addition to the DUI.

Since, in the aforementioned example, the false reporting charge is based on what the parties involved saw, observed and heard, it is critical for an attorney to interview all parties, police officers included. Based on the information gathered from talking to the parties, an attorney can raise a range of legal defenses on the defendant’s behalf.

A Miranda Rights defense is a common legal defense that may help a defendant who has been charged with false reporting. When arrested, defendants have the right to be informed of their constitutional rights (Miranda rights). Similarly, if police induced you into making a confession through means not permitted by law, any evidence gathered or false statements made by a defendant can be rendered moot.

And, if the police reports themselves contain false or misleading information in the report, your criminal defense lawyer can use this to a defendant’s legal benefit. These are just a few of the many legal defenses made possible by putting an Arizona false reporting attorney to work on your behalf.

If you have already lied to the police or want to protect yourself from saying something incriminating, contact us today! We have the experience you need to get the best outcome for your case.

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