Is Lying to the Police a Crime

Lying to Police

Ingham County Criminal Defense Attorney

In 2012 the Michigan legislature passed a law making it a crime to lie to the police during a criminal investigation. MCL 750.479c mirrors federal law and makes it a crime to knowingly and willfully:

  • conceal any material fact relating to a criminal investigation
  • make any statement that the person is false or misleading regarding a material fact in that criminal investigation
  • issue or otherwise provide a writing or document that the person knows is false or misleading during a criminal investigation.

The key elements are knowing and willfully (i.e. intent), false and misleading, and the statements or documents must be made or furnished to a peace officer during a criminal investigation. If any of these elements are not met or cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, a person cannot be convicted of this offense.

When the Statute Does Not Apply

The statute criminalizing lying to the police during a criminal investigation does have exceptions. The following are examples that the statute does not apply to:

  • Any statement made or action taken by an alleged victim of a crime
  • Duress—is someone makes a false or misleading statement made out of reasonable fear of physical harm to him or herself or another person if the duress comes from a current or former spouse, a current or former household resident, a domestic relationship, or from someone that person has a child-in-common

What If I Invoke My Right to Remain Silent?

The statute does not criminalize invoking your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Furthermore, it does not criminalize declining to speak with the police. Keep in mind that no one has to speak to the police. Ever! No one can be compelled to speak to the police any invoking silence or refusing to speak to the police (whether you are being accused of a crime or just a mere witness) cannot be held against you.

Is Lying to the Police Resisting and Obstructing?

No! Resisting and Obstructing the police is a separate charge with different elements. Resisting and Obstructing requires some physical act, resistance, or refusal to obey a lawful order from the police while performing their duties.

Can Lying to the Police Bring Other Charges?

Yes, it’s very possible. Under certain circumstances, lying to the police could get you charged with filing a false police report. However, you cannot be charged with perjury because the statement is not made under oath in court. Perjury is a different charge.

Penalties for Lying to the Police

The penalties depend on the severity of the crime that was being investigated that the false or misleading statement occurred in.

If the crime being investigated was a serious misdemeanor, that person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up 93 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. If the crime being investigated is a misdemeanor punishable by one year or more or a felony punishable by four years or less, it is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine. If the crime being investigated is a felony punishable by more than four years, it is a high court misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.

It is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison and/or a $5,000 if the false or misleading statement during the course of a criminal investigation where one of the following crimes was the subject of the investigation:

Lansing Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with lying to the police, filing a false police report, or resisting arrest, contact Austin Legal Services, PLC today to speak to a Michigan criminal defense attorney at (517) 614-1983!

Defending charges of lying to the police throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Jackson, Shiawassee, Livingston, Jackson, Kent, Washtenaw, in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, St. Johns, Charlotte, Brighton, Howell, Corunna, Jackson, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor.