Penal Code 148.5 prohibits one to make a false report of a felony or misdemeanor to a peace officer, prosecutor, grand jury, or any employee designated to accept reports of criminal activity from citizens.
Below our criminal defense lawyers explain PC 148.5.
Penal Code 148.5
148.5. (a) Every person who reports to any peace officer listed in Section 830.1 or 830.2, or subdivision (a) of Section 830.33, the Attorney General, or a deputy attorney general, or a district attorney, or a deputy district attorney that a felony or misdemeanor has been committed, knowing the report to be false, is guilty of a misdemeanor
(b) Every person who reports to any other peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2, that a felony or misdemeanor has been committed, knowing the report to be false, is guilty of a misdemeanor if (1) the false information is given while the peace officer is engaged in the performance of his or her duties as a peace officer and (2) the person providing the false information knows or should have known that the person receiving the information is a peace officer.
(c) Except as provided in subdivisions (a) and (b), every person who reports to any employee who is assigned to accept reports from citizens, either directly or by telephone, and who is employed by a state or local agency which is designated in Section 830.1, 830.2, subdivision (e) of Section 830.3, Section 830.31, 830.32, 830.33, 830.34, 830.35, 830.36, 830.37, or 830.4, that a felony or misdemeanor has been committed, knowing the report to be false, is guilty of a misdemeanor if (1) the false information is given while the employee is engaged in the performance of his or her duties as an agency employee and (2) the person providing the false information knows or should have known that the person receiving the information is an agency employee engaged in the performance of the duties described in this subdivision.
(d) Every person who makes a report to a grand jury that a felony or misdemeanor has been committed, knowing the report to be false, is guilty of a misdemeanor. This subdivision shall not be construed as prohibiting or precluding a charge of perjury or contempt for any report made under oath in an investigation or proceeding before a grand jury.
(e) This section does not apply to reports made by persons who are required by statute to report known or suspected instances of child abuse, dependent adult abuse, or elder abuse.
How Does the Prosecutor Prove A False Report Of a Crime Was Commited Under Penal Code 148.5?
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 criminal activity ((“Criminal activity” in this context entails a misdemeanor or a felony.))
The following actions are all examples2 of how one can make a false report:
- Making a report in person directly;
- Making a report via telephone;
- Initiating a report yourself without being solicited;
- Making a false report after someone else initiially calls the police first3.
- To any of the following authorities:
The following are all examples of the type of authorities a report can be made to:
- Peace or police officer
- The Attorney General
- Deputy attorney general
- Destrict attorney
- Deputy district attorney
- Grand jury or,
- Any employee who is assigned to accept reports from citizens with knowledge that the report is false.
Jill is really annoyed with her neighbor’s loud music, so she calls 911 and falsely reports that her neighbor has assaulted her. Because Jill made a false report to a 911 operator, she could be charged with the offense.
Chester, a cashier at Rite Aid, wants to get a promotion to the floor manager instead of his co-worker, so he falsely reports that his co-worker stole money from the cash register and the co-worker gets arrested. Chester can be charged with the offense because he intentionally made a false report about his co-worker knowing that it was not true.
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.
What Are the Penalties For Penal Code 148.5?
This offense is a misdemeanor for which the penalties may include up to 6 months in county jail or by a fine, not exceeding $1,000, or by both fine and imprisonment. In some instances, the judge may grant several months of probation to reduce jail time or just grant probation with no jail time at all.
- False Report of an Emergency | Penal Code 148.3
- Making a False Fire Alarm | California Penal Code 148.4 PC
- Preparing False Evidence | California Penal Code 134
How We Can Help
We have significant experience defending clients charged under California penal code 148.5 and in consultation with our clients we come up with the most effective defense strategy for your case. If you have a pending case and you would like to speak to an attorney4 please call us at 818-351-9555 for a free consultation.
- Elements. Pen. Code, § 148.5.
- See Pen. Code, § 148.5.
- People v. Lawson (1979) 100 Cal.App.3d 60, 67.
- Our attorney’s practice law throughout California in the following jurisdictions. Santa Clarita Valley, Antelope Valley, San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, Southern California, Los Angeles County, Santa Monica, Hollywood, Glendale, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Studio City, Burbank, Van Nuys, Chatsworth, San Fernando, Santa Clarita, Valencia, Palmdale, Lancaster, Pasadena, Alhambra, Malibu, Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, Orange County, San Bernadino County