If you lie to a police officer about a criminal investigation, this is known as Florida giving false information to police. It is a criminal charge. Generally, it is a misdemeanor crime. It is a first degree misdemeanor, so it is punishable by up to one year in the county jail. Giving false information to a police officer can be a felony if the police are investigating a capital felony. I wrote an example of the felony on the 20 Miles Law Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyers website. The example is about a Georgia case, but I applied Florida law. To learn more, go to Giving False Information or Lying to Police Officers in Florida and Brunswick Baby Shooting.
You may be wondering why a person would lie to a police officer, but it is not uncommon. It is a natural reaction. It is done out of fear. Here are some basic examples of people not being upfront with the police:
1. Underage Drinking: A large group of teenagers at a house party in Ponte Vedre FL. All the other kids are drinking. Your daughter decides to have a beer. The St. Johns County police department busts the party. They see your daughter with the beer. She is given a criminal citation for Florida possession of alcohol by a minor. She lies and tells the police officer that she is 21 years old. It is understandable as to why she lied about her age. She was afraid that she would be charged with a Florida juvenile crime. She was afraid of disappointing her parents. She has two charges against her. Her parents hire a St. Johns County attorney to help her. Looking back, she does not know why she did not tell the truth. She acted in the moment due to her fear.
2. Possession of Marijuana: A young man is driving in his car. He is pulled over for driving on a suspended license in Jacksonville FL. He is a Jacksonville habitual traffic offender. He is arrested. He has marijuana in his pocket. He does not tell the police officer. He has less than 20 grams of marijuana. If he had said something, he would have been charged with Jacksonville possession of cannabis. This is a misdemeanor. He goes to the Duval County Jail for booking. The intake officer finds the drugs and adds a felony introduction of contraband charge to the Jacksonville suspended license charge. As a Duval County lawyer, I know that the booking officer will find the weed. He is not as familiar with the system, so he does not disclose it. It makes sense that he would not want to tell the police officer that he is carrying drugs. He was arrested for a driving charge. He does not want additional Jacksonville drug charges.
3. Giving a False Name: Florida Statute Section 901.36 prohibits a person from giving a false name to police. The law states “It is unlawful for a person who has been arrested or lawfully detained by a law enforcement officer to give a false name, or otherwise falsely identify himself or herself in any way, to the law enforcement officer or any county jail personnel.” This is a misdemeanor crime. Imagine a woman is accused of Florida petty theft in Orange Park. She is on probation for Jacksonville worthless check charges in Duval County. She is worried about violating probation in Jacksonville. She gives the police officer a false name. She is charged with this crime in addition to the petty theft charge. Her Clay County attorney will need to fight the Florida theft and false name charges. Her Florida defense attorney will also need to address the violation of probation case. She lied because she was scared. This ended up costing her more.
If you have been arrested, it is normal to feel ashamed. You still need to take care of yourself and your case. Call 20 Miles Law at (904) 564-2525 to speak to a Jacksonville criminal lawyer for free.