148.3. (a) Any individual who reports, or causes any report to be made, to any city, county, city and county, or state department, district, agency, division, commission, or board, that an “emergency” exists, knowing that the report is false, is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.
(b) Any individual who reports, or causes any report to be made, to any city, county, city and county, or state department, district, agency, division, commission, or board, that an “emergency” exists, and who knows that the report is false, and who knows or should know that the response to the report is likely to cause death or great bodily injury, and great bodily injury or death is sustained by any person as a result of the false report, is guilty of a felony and upon conviction thereof shall be punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170, or by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.
To prove that the defendant is guilty of this offense, the prosecutor has to prove the following facts or elements1:
- Making a false report of an emergency2
- With the knowledge that the report is false.
A man called the sheriff’s communications center and reported that he has an AK-47 and hundreds of rounds of ammunition and that he demands money and a helicopter ride to Mexico and if he does not get it, he will detonate a bomb and kill hostages. When the police arrived on location, they found the man sitting in his car clearly unarmed and unable to execute the threats he made in the phone call. The man can be charged with making a false report of an emergency.
When Josh saw a heavy cloud of smoke rising above his neighbor’s house, he called 911 and reported a fire next door. When the fire department arrived, it was discovered that the smoke did not result from a fire and was just special effects smoke that is often used in theater productions. Because Josh honestly believed that the smoke was a result of fire, he could not be charged with the offense.
Any person who makes a false report of emergency with knowledge that the report is false can be charged with the offense under Caifornia Penal Code 148.3.
Lack of knowledge: As one of the elements of the offense is that the defendant have knowledge of the falsity of the report, if the defendant can show that he/she had no such knowledge, he/she cannot be charged with the offense.
This offense is a misdemeanor for which the penalties may include:
- Up to 1 year in a county jail.
However, the judge has discretion to issue probation instead with less jail time or without any jail time.
If you have been arrested and would like to learn more about how attorneys charge.
If you want to understand why its important to have an attorney represent you.
We have significant experience defending clients charged under California penal code 148.3 and in consultation with our clients we come up with the most effective defense strategy for your case. If you would like to discuss a pending case contact us at 818-351-9555 for a free consultation.
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- Elements. Pen. Code, § 148.3. [↩]
- Pen. Code, § 148.3 defines an “emergency” as any condition that results in, or could result in, the response of a public official in an authorized emergency vehicle, aircraft, or vessel, any condition that jeopardizes or could jeopardize public safety and results in, or could result in, the evacuation of any area, building, structure, vehicle, or of any other place that any individual may enter, or any situation that results in or could result in activation of the Emergency Alert System pursuant to Section 8594 of the Government Code. An activation or possible activation of the Emergency Alert System pursuant to Section 8594 of the Government Code shall not constitute an “emergency” for purposes of this section if it occurs as the result of a report made or caused to be made by a parent, guardian, or lawful custodian of a child that is based on a good faith belief that the child is missing. [↩]