Are False Reports Illegal?

man on the phone - false report to police (fire) (EMTs) illegal

Are False Reports Illegal?

Recently in northern Arizona, someone reported that several students were shot in their classroom. With incidents of weapons in schools on the rise, the police quickly jumped into action. However, when they arrived at the school, all the students were accounted for and healthy. Not a single weapon was found upon a search. 

According to local news, the police are still looking for the person who filed the false report and wasted the community’s time and resources. While it may not always seem like a serious crime, filing a false report could have weighty consequences, including time in jail or prison. 

What Is a False Report?

A false report is defined as knowingly reporting false information to a government service that takes resources away from true emergencies or harms another individual. These reports could be made to the police, fire department, EMTs, or even child services

Calling in or filing a false report is a problem for several reasons. The first is that it takes resources away from those who might actually need them. The second reason is the cost of the response, as all emergency services must be paid for, and often it is very expensive to run these programs. 

Examples of False Reports 

  • Calling in a bomb threat when you want to get out of class
  • Calling the police on a neighbor because they did not invite you to their party 
  • Filing an abuse or neglect report on a family because you are angry at them
  • Calling for EMTs when no one is hurt or in medical danger, or for a pet
  • Reporting a fire when there are no signs of fire
  • Lying to a police officer, firefighter, or EMT to interfere with their jobs

False Reports Could Land You in Jail 

The first time a false report is filed, the consequence is a class 1 misdemeanor. Class 1 misdemeanors are the most severe, and carry a maximum of 6 months in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. Depending on the judge, you could also have to serve up to 3 years of probation, perform community service, and pay restitution to the victims, city, or community. 

Repeat offenders could face a class 6 felony. While this is the least severe of the felony classes, it still has serious consequences. Penalties can include 6 months to nearly 6 years in prison, and, as with all felonies, the loss of certain civil rights, eligibility for parole, and the possibility of restitution.

Along with the loss of time that comes with serving a jail or prison sentence, your life could also be affected by the other consequences. While on probation or parole, you may not be able to enjoy the freedom of a weekend spent out of town, and the restitution that you will need to pay back could impact your future ability to save money. 

If You Are Charged, You Need a Lawyer

If you have filed a false report and are facing charges, you need a good criminal defense lawyer. Legal cases can get complicated, and having a lawyer like Todd Coolidge who knows the Arizona justice system is a must. 

With a good attorney on your side, you could spend less time in jail or prison, less time on parole or probation, and pay less in reparation. The right lawyer could even help turn your felony into a misdemeanor. Contact us today for a consultation to find out how we can help.


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (1/13/23). Photo by Marília Castelli on Unsplash.