Brian White | July 9, 2018 | Texas Laws
If you believe that someone else is legally responsible for your injuries, it’s natural to want to hold them accountable. On the other hand, there are right and wrong ways of doing this. Filing a false police report can not only harm the viability of your personal injury claim, but it can also leave you vulnerable to criminal prosecution. Here’s everything you need to know about filing a false police report and the associated consequences according to Texas law.
What is Filing a False Police Report, and When Does It Most Often Happen?
You might file a false police report if you include misleading or erroneous information in the process of telling local authorities about an accident or other occurrences, whether real or nonexistent. Some people file police reports by making up stories about untrue events or embellishing a story based on a true occurrence. In fact, two main types of falsification exist:
An intentional falsification occurs when you provide a responding officer with inaccurate details regarding an incident. It might only involve details or include making up an incident itself. Examples include:
- Overstating the amount stolen in a robbery
- Falsifying information for an insurance claim
- Creating allegations of domestic violence for the purpose of attaining sole custody of a child
- Stating that someone was texting and driving at the time of the accident when you did not see it yourself.
Unintentional falsifications, on the other hand, occur when someone provides erroneous information to a responding officer by accident. For example, a witness to a car accident may genuinely misrepresent a person’s speed at the time of the accident. You, as a victim of a car accident, may also misrepresent facts under the stress of the moment. Unintentional fabrications like these are generally honest mistakes and are not subject to prosecution. On the other hand, the police take matters of intentional falsification very seriously.
Falsifying a Police Report and Texas Law
Under Texas law, you may be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor for falsifying a police report. According to Texas statutes:
- A person commits the offense when he or she knowingly provides false information in a police statement that is important to a criminal or civil investigation.
- The person receiving the statement was a police officer or other officer of the peace, authorized to conduct the investigation.
- The person committing the offense knew that it was an official police investigation.
Falsifying a police report is a violation of Section 37.08 of Texas law, subject to criminal penalties. If convicted, an offender could face up to 180 days in jail and fines up to $2,000.
How to Talk to Police After an Accident
The moments following an accident can be chaotic. If you believe someone else may have been responsible, it can be easy for your emotions to get in the way of telling the truth. On the other hand, it’s essential to stay calm when talking to a police officer. Even a small embellishment could affect your right to compensation, should you decide to pursue a civil claim. We recommend taking the following actions before providing the police with a statement:
- Take a moment to compose yourself, if you need it.
- Stick to the facts of the case – what happened, and anything you noticed at the scene. It’s fine to point out if the other driver was texting or speeding, but only relay the information if you’re sure.
- See if eyewitnesses can corroborate your story. This adds credence to your statement and helps ensure you’re recalling the events of an accident accurately.
Filing a false police report can result in criminal penalties under Texas law. Be very careful in the information you provide to a responding officer. Speak to a Houston injury attorney to learn more.