You may be charged with a crime for giving false information to a peace officer.
Imagine this scenario: you’re driving down the highway when you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror. You panic, because your license is suspended — and you know that you could get in serious trouble for driving with a suspended license. So when the police officer approaches your car, you claim that you forgot your license and give a fake name. Can you be charged with a crime for doing that?
The answer, according to a criminal defense attorney in Riverside, CA, is yes. Under California’s vehicle code, it is illegal to give false information to a peace officer when they are performing their duties under the law. To be convicted of this crime, a prosecutor not only has to prove that you gave false information, but that you knew that it was false at the time. If you simply make a mistake, then you will not be charged with a crime — because you have to have provided false information knowingly. If you are nervous and answer a question incorrectly because your mind went blank, that is a possible defense to this type of charge.
This law can be violated in a number of ways, such as giving a fake name, providing a license that isn’t your own, handing over a forged registration, or responding a question with an answer that you know is false.
A violation of this law is a misdemeanor offense. If you are convicted, you may be sentenced to up to 6 months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
This crime is similar to obstructing a police officer who is engaged in the performance of their duties (also known as resisting arrest). If you give a fake name to the police in relation to an issue that doesn’t involve the vehicle code, you could be charged with this crime.
Importantly, this law does not mean that you give up your constitutional right agains self-incrimination. If the police stop you on suspicion of DUI and ask you if you have been drinking, you don’t have to answer. However, you cannot give a false answer or give a fake name. Doing that can lead to a criminal charge.
At the Chambers Law Firm, we have significant experience representing Californians who have been charged with a wide range of crimes. As a former prosecutor, attorney Dan E. Chambers understands the California criminal justice system from both sides — and he puts that knowledge to use for his clients to help them get the best possible resolution for their case.
If you have been charged with giving false information or any other crime, we can help. Contact us today at 855-397-0210 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free initial consultation with a criminal defense attorney in Riverside, CA.