Massachusetts G.L.c. 269, § 13A: False reports to police officers

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 269, section 13A governs the crime of false reports to police officers. It provides as follows:

“Whoever intentionally and knowingly makes or causes to be made a false report of a crime to police officers shall be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred nor more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than one year, or both.”

In order to convict a defendant of this crime, the government has to prove the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant reported a crime to the police or caused a report to be made to the police.
  2. The report was false.
  3. The defendant intended to make the false report to the police. It is not enough that the false report was made by accident or through negligence.
  4. The defendant knew that the report was false.

A defendant can be convicted of making a false report of a crime even where he or she is only responding to questions from the police. Massachusetts courts have rejected the argument that only a person who initiates contact with the police can make a “report” to the police. In the view of Massachusetts courts, the party who initiated the conversation does not matter. Rather, whether there was a “report” turns on the substance of the information or misinformation provided. However, Massachusetts courts have disagreed with the government’s argument that this statute criminalizes the telling of any misinformation to police officers that is related to a crime. The reasoning is that the statute does not say anything about making false statements to the police. Instead, the Massachusetts legislature used the language “report of” a crime, which implies that the misinformation or untruth told to the police must be sufficiently material and substantially inaccurate. That a defendant reported an untrue detail related to a crime to the police is not enough to convict a defendant of making a false report to a police officer.

Examples: G.L.c. 269, section 13A

One obvious example of a false report of a crime to a police officer is where a defendant contacts the police and reports some crime that he or she knew did not take place. The statute is not limited to such circumstances, however, and it covers a broader range of conduct. For instance, a defendant could be convicted of making a false report of a crime to a police officer where he or she intentionally misidentified the perpetrator of an offense that did in fact occur. In other example, a defendant could be convicted of this crime where he or she intentionally misreports that a shot was fired from a long distance where in fact the shot was fired from a close distance.

Related Offenses

General Laws chapter 268, section 13B is an offense related to G.L.c. 269, section 13A. G.L.c. 268, section 13B criminalizes many actions that interfere with the justice system, including intimidation of witnesses, jurors, and judicial officers and willfully misleading a police officer with the intent to impede or obstruct an investigation.

Defenses to False Report to a Police Officer

In order to convict a defendant of this crime, the government has to prove that the false report was made intentionally. Thus, one defense against these charges would be that the defendant made the false report accidentally or negligently. Another defense would be that the defendant did not know that the report was false, as there is a knowledge element to the offense. An experienced defense attorney will evaluate the facts of your case and develop the strongest defense possible.

Penalties

Making a false report to a police officer is punishable by imprisonment in the jail or house of correction for up to one year or by a fine of between $100 and $500 or by both imprisonment and the fine.

Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in Boston, Massachusetts 617 263 6800

Stephen Neyman is a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney who has been practicing in the Commonwealth for more than two decades. He has successfully handled numerous cases involving false report to a police officer over the years, and Attorney Neyman knows how to build a winning defense against these charges. Though this crime is a misdemeanor, any conviction or unfavorable disposition can seriously affect one’s future. Furthermore, these types of charges often accompany more serious charges. It is important to speak with a skilled criminal attorney as soon as you have been charged with this or any other crime in Massachusetts.

If you or someone you know has been charged with false report of a crime to a police officer, or any other crime in Massachusetts, contact the Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, P.C. You can reach Attorney Neyman’s office by calling 617 263 6800 or by sending an email through this website. When you call, Attorney Neyman will discuss your case with you and schedule an initial consultation. As soon as you speak with Attorney Neyman, you will have confidence in the knowledge that you have a zealous advocate on your side. Attorney Neyman has offices in downtown Boston and in other Massachusetts locations. If you require directions or any other information about reaching his office, Attorney Neyman or one of his friendly staff members will happily assist you. Time is of the essence, so call today.

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