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False Accusations - California Penal Code PC 148.5

Posted by Raoul Severo | Sep 10, 2020 | 0 Comments

The constitution swears to protect all of its subjects from crime and illegal activities. If someone commits a crime against another person or against the community as a whole, then it is only right to give him the consequences he deserves. This is part of the country's effort to make our homeland as safe and peaceful as possible. Unfortunately, there are others who take advantage of the law's strong commitment to justice. You may have heard stories about innocent men who sadly wasted years behind bars for a crime they did not commit. These are tragic narratives, and we all wish this was all made up -- but it is not, and this continues to become a reality to many more Americans. 

The fact that there are innocent people who go to jail while some guilty criminals walk the streets as a free man truly is a testament to how unfair the world is. However, to pursue America's vision to an equal, free, and just society, California enacted Penal Code PC 148.5. This code acknowledges that false accusations do happen, and anyone who frames another individual to make it appear as if a crime was committed when, in truth, there was none, will suffer the necessary punishments. In other words, a person who willingly files a police report even if he/she knows that it is false can be convicted under this statute. 

The most common reason as to why people wrongfully accuse another person is due to jealousy or thirst for vengeance. For example, you have just divorced your partner a few months ago and you see that he/she is already dating someone else. Coincidentally, your partner's new date is also your best friend. You feel as if you have been deceived and lied to, so you want to seek revenge by lying to a police officer that your ex-partner raped you. This revenge plot is not only morally wrong but also seriously unlawful. Although, the motives for false accusations may not be entirely influenced by their desire to ruin another person's life. In fact, some people deliberately lie to save another person from getting in trouble with the law. An example of which would be reporting to a police officer during an assault investigation that another person (whom you know is innocent) is responsible for the assault. You do this to divert the investigator's focus from your friend (whom you know is the real aggressor). 

Also, keep in mind that a person can only be convicted under PC 148.5 if he/she makes a false misdemeanor or felony report. The first scenario involves rape which is a “wobbler” offense. The second scenario involves assault, which is also a “wobbler” offense. Hence, the persons who made the false police reports is guilty under this penal code. However, if the person files a police report by falsely accusing another person of an infraction, then he/she may not necessarily be convicted under this penal code.

Punishments for Violating California Penal Code 148.5

If the court rules that a person made false accusations, then he/she is guilty of a misdemeanor which is punishable by:

  • A county jail sentence of 6 months maximum 
  • A fine of $1,000

It is important to also mention that these penalties will not be applicable to people who are legally obligated to report suspected cases of child abuse, dependent adult abuse, or elder abuse

Legal Defenses for False Accusations

It truly upsets everyone involved in the case if one person is not being truthful or honest with their accounts. If you have been wrongfully accused of committing a crime that you know you had no involvement in, you may file a false accusation lawsuit against the person in question with the help of our trusted and experienced lawyers. Meanwhile, if you are the person receiving the false accusation lawsuit, then you also have legal rights to defend yourself. 

One of the most commonly used defenses for false accusation lawsuits is that the defendant genuinely and reasonably believed that a crime did, in fact, take place. You may also argue that your statement was not reported to any of the peace officers listed in the penal code. Either way, it is highly recommended to hire a defense attorney in California for additional information. 

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