Mistakes happen. Witnesses start to second guess what they’ve seen. Memories dim. Stress causes people to make mistakes. Investigators word things in a way that the person who is being questioned doesn’t actually understand what is being said. These things happen all the time and can lead to people providing investigating officers with information that isn’t always perfectly accurate. Everyone understands that. However, there’s a big difference between not being one hundred percent confident about how a crime went down and flat out providing the police with false information.
The difference between misspeaking or making a mistake during an interview and providing false information is that the false information is done deliberately and with the intention of changing the course of the investigation.
The other difference is that a faulty memory or not understanding a question won’t result in you facing criminal charges. Deliberately providing false information will. Knowingly providing false information during a police investigation is considered an obstruction of justice.
Common examples of providing false information in California include:
- Deliberately filing false police reports.
- Providing fake vehicle information during traffic stops.
- Giving the police a fake identification or using an ID that belongs to someone else.
- Omitting crucial information during formal statements.
- Deliberately providing inaccurate details/information during statements.
The amount of legal trouble you land in after providing false information depends on the type of case the police are working on. It could be a state or federal crime. In some situations, you could be charged with misdemeanor obstruction of justice while other situations could result in felony charges.
If you provide false information in California and are convicted of misdemeanor obstruction of justice, the maximum sentence is to 6 months in a county jail and/or a $1,000 fine. If you’re convicted with felony obstruction of justice you could be sentenced to multiple years in a state prison and be charged a large fine.
The best defense when you’ve been charged with providing false information in California is to show that you didn’t deliberately provide the false information, that it was simply a misunderstanding or a mistake. You will want a good lawyer on your side who will help you prepare your defense and argue your case for you.
The best way to avoid being accused of providing false information during a police investigation in California is by always being honest with the police officers and double-checking that each piece of identification you provide is yours.