It’s probably safe to assume that most people know it’s a bad idea to lie to the cops. However, not everyone knows exactly why. And as it turns out, here in Michigan the “why” is actually very important.
Current Michigan law defines lying to the police about an alleged crime as “making a false report of a crime”, which can actually mean several things:
- On the one hand, this can mean denying your part in a criminal undertaking.
- It can also mean attempting to point the finger of blame at someone else in an effort to redirect a criminal investigation away from yourself, or
- Retelling the sequence of events to make your part in them look less involved or direct.
- Also, getting someone else to lie on your behalf can result in the same charges.
In fact the law defines it as “A person who intentionally makes a false report of the commission of a crime . . . to a peace officer, police agency of this state or of a local unit of government, 9-1-1 operator, or any other governmental employee . . . is guilty of a crime.”
In other words, if the police are questioning you as part of an ongoing criminal investigation, and the answers you provide are in substantively untruthful, you could be charged with “making a false report of a crime”. But this is where it gets somewhat complicated….
If the crime being investigated is a misdemeanor under Michigan law, like Leaving the Scene of an Accident, or Domestic Violence, then the individual accused of falsifying a report will be charged with a misdemeanor. However, if the crime is question is a felony, like Armed Robbery or First Degree Criminal Sexual Assault, the charge of falsifying a report will be a felony charge.
Another thing to remember is the fact that, if the case goes to court and you are called on to provide testimony under oath, you can also be charged with perjury if it becomes known that you lied in court.
Under Michigan law, a misdemeanor charge of making a false report of a crime is punishable by up to 93 days in jail and a possible fine of $500, or both. A felony charge of the same crime, however, is punishable by up to four years in prison and a possible fine of up to $2,000 fine, or both.
While police often choose not to pursue charges against individuals for falsifying a report of a crime, it does happen. And when it does, these charges are taken very seriously, both by law enforcement and by the court.
So if you are being questioned by the police with regard to a crime, we would strongly suggest that you invoke your Fifth Amendment rights and stay politely silent. Rather than risk additional charges by lying to a police officer, we would advise that you politely refuse to answer any questions until your skilled criminal defense attorney is present and can ensure that your rights are being protected throughout the process. Your very next step should be to make that important call to The Kronzek Firm at 1 800-576-6035.