A person who deliberately lies to police, destroys documents, or attempt to influence a witness commits the crime of obstructing justice. In California, there are specific crimes that constitute obstruction of justice.
Is Falsely Identifying Myself to a Peace Officer Obstructing Justice?
Yes. In California, it’s unlawful to provide any type of false identifying information to a peace officer. For example, a defendant providing a false name to a peace officer would be a violation of this law.
Is Filing a False Report the Same as Proving False Identifying Information?
No. Filing a false report involves knowingly reporting a crime that didn’t occur. Where as providing false identifying information involves the defendant giving information they know is incomplete, wrong, or untrue to a peace officer.
How Does the State Prove I Committed this Crime?
Prosecutors have to prove the defendant:
- Falsely identified or represented themselves as someone else to a peace officer
- Did so to avoid the court process or to avoid giving proper identification
- Worked with a peace officer at the time they gave false information
- Knew or should have known the person was a peace officer
What is the Punishment for Falsely Identifying Myself to a Peace Officer?
Giving false information to law enforcement is a misdemeanor. A conviction is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. The court may also grant several months of probation to reduce jail time, or grant probation instead of jail time.
What are the Defenses to the Charge of Falsely Identifying Myself?
Several defenses are available to fight this criminal charge. Common defenses include:
- The defendant told the truth
- The defendant had a good faith belief that they weren’t talking to a real peace officer
- The peace officer was acting beyond the scope of their duties when requesting the identifying information
Should I talk to a Lawyer about Fighting This Criminal Charge?
Yes, talk to a criminal lawyer about how you can avoid the serious penalties associated with this crime.