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Filing a False Police Report

PC 148.5 Crimes

The law on the crime of filing a false police report, also known as false report of criminal offense, is found at California penal code section 148.5(a). In short, it is a crime to report a false incident to police or other law enforcement related agency, such as a district attorney, Attorney General, or even an employee of a police department in charge of taken reports.

PC 148.5(a) Law

PC 148.5(a) Every person who reports to any peace officer, Attorney General, or district attorney, that a felony or misdemeanor has been committed, knowing the report to be false, is guilty of filing a false police report (Abbrev.).

Note: PC 148.5 only applies if the defendnat knew the false report was being made to law enforcement while engaged in that duty. For example, if a defendant reports a false incident to an off-duty police officer, the the crime of PC 148.5 has not been committed.

Exceptions: PC 148.5 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 (PC 148.5(e)).


PC 148.5(a) is classified as a misdemeanor. If found guilty of falsely reporting to an officer, the defendant may face up to 180 days in the county jail.

Note: probation sentences without jail may be available. Whether or not a probation sentence without jail is available mostly depends on the circumstances of the case and the defendant's criminal history.

Work Release: Work release is a sentence of manual labor, whichusually means collecting trash around highways or jails. Work release may be ordered in lieu of jail when the defendant is place on probaion for PC 148.5 convictions. House arrest, also called electronic monitoring, may also be avalaible in lieu of jail.

CIMT: Filing a false report is considred to be a crime involving moral turpitude. This means that the crime involves deceit or is otherwise involves morally wrong conduct. Crimes of moral tutpitude cary speacial negative consequences for immigration purposes. Any non U.S. citizen convicted or arrested for filing a false report may be denied entry into the United State or he or she may be deported from from the country.

Bail: The stated bail amount for charges of filing a false police report is $5,000 in San Bernardino County (2020). This amount may be increased or decreased by a judge after considering mitigating or aggravating factors, such as the defendant's criminal history and his or her risk of not attending court.

Collateral Punishments

In addition to a possible probation or jail sentence (or both), if found guilty of false report of crime the defendant will face monetary fines, restraining orders, restitution orders for any damage caused to third persons, possible civil law suits, and more.

Common PC 148.5

There are lots of defenses that might apply to any PC 148.5 crime. Some defenses are unique to the charge itself. For example, PC 148.5(e) carves out an exception for mandated reporters as a special defense. The most common defenses related to crimes in general, including any PC 148.5 crime, include: mistake of fact (or a holding a good faith belief that the report is true), statute of limitations (one year from the date of reporting the alleged false information), insanity, coerced confession, intoxication, insufficient evidence, police misconduct, and more.

If you or a loved one has been charged with penal code 148.5(a), or false report of crime, contact our criminal defense attorneys without delay. Our criminal lawyers have successfully defended hundreds of felony and misdemeanor charges, including PC 148.5(a) crimes. There is no charge for consultations and our attorneys are available seven days a week to discuss all of your questions and defense options. Call today!


Related Crimes

  • PC 148(a)(1) Obstruction or resisting arrest

  • PC 148(b) Removal of officer's weapon while resisting

  • PC 148.9(a) Give false identification to police

  • PC 148.3 Falsely report an emergency

  • PC 148.1(c) False report a bomb threat

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