Can I get into trouble if I lie to the police?
I am often asked this question by people, and the answer is yes, but the lie has to concern the individual falsely reporting a crime to the police. 18-8-111(1)(b) CRS. If a person is interviewed as a witness by the police and they lie, then the lying is not a crime. Also, you cannot give false identifying information to the police. 18-8-111(1)(d) CRS. Identifying information is defined as name, address, birth date, social security number or driver’s license number. 18-8-111(3). It is also a crime to falsely report a fire or ambulance emergency.
What happens if I lie to the police?
A quick answer: Just don’t lie when you report a crime (or fire or ambulance request). If the police come to you and ask a question, and you provide the correct identification, then you can answer any way you want.
Perhaps a better way to handle any situation involving speaking to the police is to say it this way: Use your right to
silence, and be quiet. Tell them you do not want to answer, or that you don’t want anything to do with an investigation.
Other ways to offend the law by lying
There are other ways to offend the law by lying or not speaking to the government, however. A false report of explosives, chemicals, or biological agent to the police or authorities is a Class Six Felony. 18-8-110 CRS. Knowingly concealing the death of another with the intent to hinder investigation of that death is a class one misdemeanor. 18-8-109 CRS. (If you had a body somewhere in your house, I do not know why you would want to keep it around, instead of just turning it over to the police — unless there was something about your involvement in getting that body there to begin with that was a problem!)
The dividing line in whether or not you can lie to the police is if you are giving the false information to the police as you report a crime.
Shaun Kaufman is a seasoned, successful criminal defense attorney with nearly 30 years experience in the Colorado criminal justice system.
He is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call anytime: 303-309-0430.