What to do if someone made a false police report against you in Pennsylvania?
It seems hard to believe until it happens to you – you’re being investigated by the police or even charged with a crime because someone lied to the police. On top of the stress of now being accused of a crime, you also have to worry about the damage to your reputation and being embarrassed in front of your friends and family. You can quickly become overwhelmed and the situation may seem almost hopeless. If you’re in this situation, the best thing you can do is to fight back.
Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer Lauren Wimmer works with people who have been falsely accused of crimes day in and day out. She has the experience you need to get to the truth and to help you get justice. If you’ve been falsely accused of a crime and need someone who will fight for your rights, call Wimmer Criminal Defense Law at 215-712-1212 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Giving False Information to the Police is Against the Law
Providing false information to the police is against the law in Pennsylvania. Under Title 18, Section 4906 of the Pennsylvania Code, there are two separate crimes for providing false information to police:
- False incrimination. It is a second-degree misdemeanor if someone knowingly and falsely implicates you in a crime. If convicted, that person could face up to two years in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.
- False information. It is a third-degree misdemeanor to provide the police with false information. This could include fabricating an incident that didn’t happen or claiming to have witnessed an incident that they did not. If convicted, that person could face up to one year in jail and $2,500 in fines.
Falsely accusing someone of a crime is obviously the more serious charge. However, providing false information is also a serious crime. In those instances, you may have been charged with a crime that didn’t happen or based on the other person’s false statements to the police.
How Do False Reports Happen?
You may be wondering why people file false reports or how they result in criminal charges. We trust the police and prosecutors to verify claims made by witnesses and prosecute only those crimes that they believe are valid. Unfortunately, police departments often do not have the resources they need to investigate crimes fully. In addition, law enforcement agencies are under tremendous pressure to combat crime aggressively. As a result, the police and prosecutors often pursue charges that are not only difficult to prove but sometimes based on false information.
Sadly, some of these false charges are simply the result of bias. Police and prosecutors are inclined to believe a witness when that witnesses’ claims fit with their preconceived notions. This is particularly the case in situations where the accused has a prior criminal record. Law enforcement officers often assume that since you have prior convictions, it stands to reason that you committed the crime that you are now being accused of.
You also have to consider the motivations of the person who is providing the police with false information. There are a number of reasons why someone may falsely accuse you of a crime –
- They are attempting to conceal their own role in the crime.
- They have been charged in another crime and are attempting to gain leniency by implicating others in separate crimes.
- They are accusing you in retaliation for something else (often a factor if you had a prior relationship with your accuser).
The bottom line is that false accusations happen more often than most people realize and far more often than the police are willing to admit.
Understand Your Rights
If you have been accused of committing a crime, it is critical to understand your rights. First, you should realize that cooperation will not necessarily mean that you will get a fair result. The police may act like they believe you, only to then use your own statements against you. Even seemingly harmless statements as to where you were when the crime was committed can be problematic later on. If you’ve been falsely accused of a crime, you need to remember that you have rights:
- The right to remain silent. The Fifth Amendment guarantees your right against self-incrimination. You do not have to speak with the police, even if it is to assert your own innocence.
- The right to an attorney. This right goes hand-in-hand with your right to remain silent. If you can’t afford a lawyer, the court is obligated to provide you with one. Once you have a lawyer, the police or the prosecutors cannot speak to you without your lawyer present.
- The right to know the charges against you. If you’ve been charged, you have a right to know exactly what you have been charged with. This is more complicated if you have not yet been charged, but you do have a right to know if you are going to be charged with a crime.
Law enforcement may be charged with protecting our rights, but it’s up to you to protect yourself. Even if you are innocent, the best thing you can do is hire an attorney to defend you.
How a Lawyer Can Help
An experienced criminal defense attorney will know how to investigate the claims that have been made against you. They will know what evidence they need to gather in order to prove your evidence and demonstrate that the other person has provided false information. In addition, they will be able to review and evaluate the prosecution’s evidence to further support your innocence.
Most importantly, they will make sure that the police and prosecutors do not take advantage of you and obtain a false conviction. Once you have been charged, the odds are in their favor – juries tend to believe law enforcement officers instead of people who have been accused of a crime.
Falsely Charged with a Crime? Contact Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney Lauren Wimmer
At Wimmer Criminal Defense Law, we truly believe that you are innocent until proven guilty. We will fight for your rights to make sure you get a fair result and make sure that those who have falsely accused you are held accountable. Don’t leave your future in the hands of the prosecution – call us at 215-712-1212 or send us an email to schedule a free consultation to discuss how we can help you.