Filing a false report occurs when someone knowingly makes a false report to a police officer with the intent to disrupt a criminal investigation. The person must make a statement to a police officer material to a criminal investigation to be found guilty of the crime. Texas has a separate law devoted to causing a false alarm or report.

Is Filing a False Report of Terrorism the Same as Filing a False Report?

No. Filing a false report of terrorism involves a person knowingly making a false claim of a terrorist act or threat that is untrue. This false claim does not need to be made directly to the police or another law enforcement authority. Additionally, the report is not seeking to hinder an ongoing criminal investigation.

What Does It Mean to Make a False Alarm or Report in Texas?

To make a false alarm or report means to knowingly start, circulate, or communicate a report the person knows is baseless about a past, present, or future:

  • Emergency
  • Fire
  • Bombing
  • Other Offense

Does the Report Have to Interfere with a Criminal Investigation?

No, although it may interfere with an investigation. The emergency must ordinarily:

  • Interrupt or prevent the occupation of a place of assembly, public place, building, or transportation
  • Cause action by volunteer or paid police and first responders
  • Place an individual in fear of imminent serious bodily injury

Is This Offense a Misdemeanor or Felony in Texas?

Texan authorities can charge someone with a felony or misdemeanor for making. It depends on the emergency location.

When Is the Offense a Misdemeanor?

Filing a false alarm or report is a Class A misdemeanor when the emergency does not involve a public place such as a school. The punishment for a conviction is:

  • Not more than one year in county jail
  • $4,000 fine
  • Both jail time and a fine

When Is It a Felony Charge?

The offense is a jail felony when the emergency involves a:

  • Private or public college or university
  • Primary or secondary school
  • Public transportation
  • Public gas, water, power supply

The punishment is:

  • 180 days to two years in state jail
  • $10,000 fine
  • Both state jail and fine

Do I Need to Contact a Lawyer?

A false alarm charge is a very serious charge that requires the assistance of a lawyer to defeat. If you have been accused of making a false report, contact a Texas lawyer immediately.