At some point in your life, you may have an interaction with an Arizona police officer. If you are doing something illegal and the police officer questions you about it, if your first instinct is to lie about the situation to avoid punishment, you may want to think again.
According to Arizona law, statute A.R.S. §13-2907.1 states that when you lie to an officer and get caught, you are breaking the law. While it may seem that lying can benefit you at the moment, it can have unforeseen consequences when the truth is revealed.
Common instances when a person may falsely report something include:
- Drinking and driving
- Illegal consumption or possession of drugs
- Running a stop sign or red light
In legal terms, being dishonest to a police officer is called false reporting. The classification is a misdemeanor charge. Sentencing can lead to probation of up to three years or as much as six months in jail. There is also a fine that gets attached of up to $2,500 with a guilty verdict.
With it being a misdemeanor charge, any person that commits false reporting and has to stand trial does not have the right to have their story heard by a jury. It is going to be the officer’s word and evidence against the defendant.
If, for example, you get pulled over and the officer asks you if you were drinking. If you say no, they could use something like a breathalyzer reading to show that you are lying during a DUI stop. The judge will listen to and review the case before deciding if the elements for false reporting are indeed present.
According to the law in Arizona, false reporting has occurred when the following are true:
- A resident of the state has made a false statement to a law enforcement agency or officer
- The resident is aware that the statement they made was a misrepresentation
- The misrepresented information disrupts what is known as the orderly operations of a police officer
False reporting is similar to filing a false police report. The reason behind the statute is to prevent people from coming up with charges that did not happen that could potentially be detrimental to someone else.
A woman may call the police and claim that her husband physically assaulted her to get him arrested when he has done nothing wrong. If there were no consequences for false reporting, everyone would be more tempted to do it, which would tie up resources and cause issues for all parties involved.
The only instance when lying to a police officer may be forgiven is if the person making the false report has been coerced to do so by another individual. There has to be proof of a threat of bodily harm, extortion, blackmail, or something similar to use that as a defense. The person falsifying information cannot simply state that they did it because someone else told them to.