Police officers are legally required to only include truthful information in their official reports. Law enforcement officers that disobey this regulation can be prosecuted under California Penal Code Section 118.1: Police Officers Filing False Reports.
Learn more about the penalties for a police officer filing a false report right here. The Simmrin Law Group can also help you go over possible defenses to a PC 118.1 charge.
California’s Definition of Police Officers Filing False Reports
Police officers can only file false reports if they are working officially. In order to file a false report, the police officer must:
- Write a Report That Includes False Information
- Be Aware That the Information was False
- File the Report
Note that PC 118.1 charges only apply if:
- The False Information is Important or Significant
- The Report is Tied to a Criminal Matter
This means a police officer should not be prosecuted for including false information about facts that are minor or trivial in a report. Additionally, police officers should not face PC 118.1 charges for falsifying:
- Administrative Reports
- Civil Reports
It should also be noted that it is possible to commit perjury in some cases involving police officers filing false reports. Any officer that commits perjury could also face charges tied to California Penal Code Section 118.
Penalties for PC 118.1 Violations in California
Police officers who file false reports may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony in California. Misdemeanor PC 118.1 charges are less severe. A misdemeanor conviction can lead to:
- 1 Year of Jail Time
- Summary Probation
Felony convictions for police officers filing false reports can come with harsher penalties, including:
- 3 Years of Prison Time
- Formal Probation
Police officers may also face sanctions from their police department. They could lose their jobs. Some police officers are even forbidden from working again in law enforcement after a PC 118.1 conviction.
Examples of Police Officers Filing False Reports
There are many possible ways a police officer could be charged with filing a false report, including:
A police officer pulls a man over without good cause. He ends up arresting the man and filing a report about the situation that claims that the man became aggressive and that he was driving under the influence. Video from his cruiser shows that none of this behavior actually occurred. The police officer could be charged under PC 118.1.
A police officer is called to a business where an act of vandalism just occurred. She is questioning witnesses when the business owner runs up, just arriving. The business owner claims that he saw everything that happened. The officer records the owner’s statement, even though she believes that he did not see anything. She should not be charged with filing a false report since she was writing down information from a third-party.
A police officer files a report on an arson case. He accurately reports all facts related to the act of arson, but misrepresents information about some of the trees he saw while investigating the case. The facts about trees are not significant to the case and should not constitute filing a false report.
Legal Defenses to PC 118.1 Charges
There are a number of possible legal defenses that can be used to fight PC 118.1 charges. You can contact a criminal defense lawyer who may be able to argue:
You Did Not Intent to File a False Report
Accidents can happen. Police officers that report false information by accident should not be convicted under PC 118.1. A lawyer can dig into your case to show that you did not intentionally report false information.
You Were Reporting Information Provided by Witnesses
Sometimes, eyewitnesses to criminal acts lie to police officers. Police officers may record these false statements in their reports, as long as they are not presenting the false information as their own statements.
You Thought You Were Reporting the Truth
It is possible to file a report containing information that you legitimately believed to be true, only to later find out it was false. Individuals should not be convicted in this situation, since they did not intentionally file a false report.
Get Professional Help Handling PC 118.1 Charges
California Penal Code Section 118.1: Police Officers Filing False Reports charges can lead to incarceration and the loss of your job. Make sure you’re handling a PC 118.1 charge aggressively by contacting the Simmrin Law Group today. You can fill out our online contact form or call (310) 997-4688 to reach our criminal defense lawyers.
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