Penal Code Section !48.5 sets forth misdemeanor punishment for those who knowingly make false reports of criminal activity to law enforcement.

Penal Code Section 148.5 – False Report of a Crime1

Penal Code Section 148.5 offers misdemeanor punishment for any person who knowingly makes a false report of a crime.

Penal Code Section 148.5(a)

Elements of a Section 148.5(a) charge:

  1.  The Defendant reported to a peace officer or prosecutor that a felony or misdemeanor crime has been committed.  AND
  2.  The Defendant knew that the report was false.

Penal Code Section 148.5(b)

Elements of a Section 148.5(b) charge:

  1. The Defendant reported a felony or misdemeanor crime to a peace officer; AND
  2. The Defendant made the false report while the peace officer was engaged in the performance of his/her duties; AND;
  3. The Defendant knew or should have known that the officer was engaged in the performance of his/her duties; AND
  4. The Defendant knew that the report was false.

Penal Code Section 148.5(c)

Elements of a Section 148.5(c) charge:

  1. The Defendant made a report to an employee of a law enforcement agency who is assigned to accept reports from citizens; AND
  2. The Defendant made the report either directly or by telephone; AND
  3. The Defendant’s report was false; AND
  4. The Defendant made the report to an employee who was, at the time, engaged in the performance of his/her duties; AND
  5. The Defendant knew or should have known that the employee was engaged in the performance of his/her duties when the report was made; AND
  6. The Defendant knew the report to be false.

Penal Code Section 148.5(d)

Elements of a Sectio 148.5(d) charge:

  1. The Defendant made a report to a grand jury that a felony or misdemeanor was committed; AND
  2. The Defendant knew the report to be false.

COMMENTARY:

Penal Code Section 148.5 is seldom used by law enforcement agencies.   Absent a confession by the Defendant, prosecutors are extremely reluctant to charge any person under Penal Code Section 148.5.   Prosecutors worry that they may chill the willingness of future crime victims and witnesses to cooperate with the police.  Additionally, if prosecutors wrongly conclude that a report was false, they visit a second injury on a potential crime victim.

If you find yourself under criminal investigation for a Section 148.5 violation, it is generally wise to refrain from speaking to the police until you have had an opportunity to consult with a lawyer of your choosing.

Sources Cited / Notes:
1 This blog was last edited on December 7, 2017. The information contained herein is for inormational purposes only. You must contact a competent attorney of your choosing for legal advice.

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