The crime of false reporting is getting a lot of attention this week with the charges against the actor Jussie Smollett. He is accused of making up a hate crime attack. Looking past the Hollywood drama of the case, there is a serious day to day issue for law enforcement including agencies in Southern Colorado.
Jackie Kirby with El Paso County Sheriff’s Office says at a minimum false reports tie up resources. “That is time and effort and energy that can be put into solving crime and addressing crime that is truly happening.”
“It’s a fair bet that law enforcement’s going to come down on you pretty hard if they find out, you’ve been fabricating, misleading, lying, false reporting,” said Attorney David McDivitt. False reporting comes in many forms and can be attached to other crimes like obstruction of justice and interfering in an investigation. “I think it is uncommon to see somebody fabricate an entire assault. We don’t see that every day, but you do tend to see various types of false reporting,” said McDivitt. There is falsely accusing someone in order to harm or discredit them; pranks resulting in law enforcement dispatch are illegal; and it is wrong giving law enforcement misleading of false information like name, address and phone number.
A foundation of the justice system is truth, and the system has no tolerance for anyone undermining that with anything false. “False reporting to the police can go from a misdemeanor to a felony very quickly depending on what it’s designed to do. How it influences the police,” said Attorney David McDivitt. Both misdemeanor and felony charges can result in time behind bars.