Hundreds of police reports are filed every day in the United States. But what happens when a false police report is filed, both to the filer and to the person accused in the false report, varies according to state and local laws.
Police reports can either be filed at a police station or with an officer. Filing a police report involves answering questions about the type of crime that has occurred and the name of the person responsible for committing the crime, if that information is known, and providing a description of the subject and other types of information.
Anyone can file a police report, and reports are most commonly filed during instances of burglary and assault.
After a police report is filed, it is reviewed to determine whether the incident is worth pursuing. When a report is investigated, it is assigned to an officer who will contact the person responsible for filing the report to obtain follow-up information. From there a case will be established or, if there is insufficient evidence, the investigation will be closed.
Penalties for filing a false police report vary by state and by the type of crime described in the report. In some cases, the filer is only in danger of being charged with a crime if the local police and prosecutor decide to pursue the case and it is later discovered that the report was false. Some states have stricter laws and stiffer penalties, and false filers can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. New York, for example, has three different statutes for filing a false police report.
Being the victim of a false police report could have serious and damaging consequences. Even if the filer confesses, the charges against the person may not be dropped immediately. If a false police report is filed against you, the best thing to do is to hire an attorney as soon as possible to represent you. Your attorney will be able to help you sort through the legal options and offer the expert advice you need.
The best thing to do in this situation depends on the circumstances and on the advice of your attorney. It may be best to simply tell the prosecution you have no interest in pursuing a case against the person you have filed the report against. Before you file a false police report against someone out of anger, think twice: there could be serious consequences for you and for the person who will be falsely accused.