is lying to the police a crime

Is Lying to the Police a Crime in New Jersey?

If law enforcement officers in New Jersey detain, arrest, or investigate you, lying can land you in jail. In this case, the term “lying” covers a lot of ground, including falsely reporting a crime to the police and giving false statements. Many New Jersey laws govern the answer to the question, “Is lying to the police a crime?” so learn about these different statutes before needing a criminal defense law attorney to present you. 

1. Filing a False Report

Related Statute: N.J.S.A. 2C:28-4

Filing a false report sounds cut and dry, but it also covers situations like falsely accusing someone of a crime. Some people try to get around this by insinuating someone committed a crime without making a direct accusation, but this also falls under false reporting.

Making up a crime to report or providing a police officer with an inaccurate description of a crime both count as filing a false report, making it a crime to invent a crime. In other words, if a crime didn’t happen, or if you file it as happening in a particular way that you know isn’t true, you’ll violate this statute.

2. Obstructing the Legal Process

Related Statute: N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3

Stopping the police from arresting someone by hiding them in your home or misleading officers on the person’s location can result in your arrest for hindering apprehension of that person. You can also end up spending a few months in jail if you aid a person in fleeing from the law, whether by providing them with money or weapons. Anything you do to help a person evade the law, including warning them of a potential arrest, can lead to your own wrists in handcuffs.

Wondering, “Is lying to the police a crime in New Jersey?” may come up while you destroy or tamper with evidence related to a specific case. Even if you didn’t help a person evade the police, if officers discover your tampering, they’ll arrest you for it. Stay out of trouble by refusing to help someone flee the law or get rid of any evidence.

3. Tampering with Documents or Public Information

Related Statute: N.J.S.A. 2C:28-7

Many people think of tampering with documents as editing them to say something other than the original intent. However, public documents include everything from court orders to fake I.D.s. That means that if you use a fake I.D. to purchase alcohol, you may receive the same treatment and sentencing as a person who created a false birth certificate to back up their fake identity.

Even if you just make fake I.D.s and sell them but don’t use them yourself, the distribution of false documents intended to mislead law enforcement officers falls under the purview of this statute.

4. Lying While Under Oath

Related Statute: N.J.S.A. 2C:28-1

Lying while on the witness stand can severely impact the outcome of a case. If officials discover false testimony or if the witness confirms the truth of a false statement made before the court date, the perpetrator can end up in jail. However, the law has provisions in place for those who don’t know they have false information or who provide false information that has no bearing on the case.

For instance, if you accidentally state that you were drinking milk instead of orange juice when you saw a crime occur, the drink has nothing to do with the case and, therefore, can’t trigger a perjury accusation. Likewise, if you tell your version of events and include a lie that you were told by another party, as long as you didn’t know that the other party had lied to you, the court won’t hold you responsible for perjury.

In other words, perjury requires proof that you knew you were lying on the stand and intentionally did so.

How Severe Are the Consequences for Lying to the Police in New Jersey?

All versions of lying to the police can result in months of jail time. Less severe crimes may result in a disorderly person’s offense, but circumstances may indicate the need to rate the crime as fourth, third, second, or first-degree. Arrests for committing the same types of fraudulent crimes may result in the advancement from disorderly persons to a degree of crime.

Protect Yourself with an Experienced Lawyer in New Jersey

If you wonder, “Is lying to the police a crime in New Jersey?” you may need fraud lawyers or a criminal defense attorney. Learn more about New Jersey criminal defense by contacting our team at Aiello, Harris, Abate, Law Group PC for a free attorney consultation.