What to do if I was falsely accused of selling stolen property to a pawn shop?

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What to do if I was falsely accused of selling stolen property to a pawn shop?

The cops gave the items to the person who accussed me before there was an investigation. After the investigation I was found not guilty. What can I do about the cops releasing evidence before trial and to the person found filing a false report?

Asked on February 26, 2014 under Personal Injury, Michigan


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

What is considered filing a false police report will vary slightly by state, but it’s generally what the name implies—lying to the police. Most people pick up a filing of a false report charge by make affirmative statements that are clearly false. For example, saying that your husband hit you as leverage to be used in a divorce, when he never committed an assault. This isn't an uncommom example. However, filing a false report can also arise out of material omissions which create a false impression.

Some people are tempted to omit certain facts under the “what they don’t know won’t hurt them” theory of disclosure. Continuing with the above example, if a wife calls the police and reports that her husband hit her with a rock, but intentionally leaves out that the rock was thrown when he ran the lawn mower over a rocky patch while doing the yard, then the omission would be a material omission leading to a false impression. It’s material because it explains the accidental nature of the contact, thereby creating the false impression of an intentional act.

Fudging on facts or leaving out major details can lead to a false report charge. However, it can also lead to other criminal charges. For example, if a defendant filed a false police report claiming that their vehicle was stolen, when in fact they ditched the vehicle somewhere hoping that it would never be found because they wanted their insurance company to pay off the car note, then the filing of a false report would only be their first of several charges. The defendant could also be charged with insurance fraud or hindering a secured creditor. Other companion felonies include perjury, theft by deception, and securing execution of a document by deception. 

Who and why can also affect the severity of a filing of a false police report charge. Lying to the feds about anything is always a bad idea. False reports to a federal officer in an official investigation will invite a federal charge. Lying to cover another felony charge will not only result in a false report charge, but can also result in felony tampering or hindering apprehension charges. The severity of the false nature of the report will affect how a filing of a false report will be punished.

Consequences and Penalties

Minor infractions, like lying about a misdemeanor offense, usually results in a similar misdemeanor charge. Lying about felony offenses can result in felony level charges. Misdemeanor punishment can result in a sentence ranging from probation to a year or two in county jail. Felony punishment can also result in probation, but a much higher prison sentence, from two to ten years. Even though many people charged with the filing of a false report get probation, they sometimes forget to review the other collateral consequences. 

Many false report charges come with severe civil penalties. Defendants, like runaway brides, have not only been given stiff probations, they have also been ordered to reimburse communities that expended funds to deal with the crisis created by the false report. Defendants that lie during custody disputes can actually end up losing custody of their children if the lie is exposed. In addition to the criminal charges, a civil judge can also impose civil sanctions like the payment of attorney’s fees and contempt of court for filing a false report that is connected to a civil suit.

Filing a false report can also result in a separate civil suit. Continuing with the car example, if a defendant lies about where their car is located, the insurance company could sue a defendant for reimbursement of expenses associated with recovering the car. If a defendant falsely accuses someone of crime, which resulted in their being arrested and/or losing their jobs, then a defendant could be held financially liable for defamation. In any filing of a false report case, a defendant could find themselves defending an expensive civil and a criminal suit at the same time.

I suggest that you consult with a personal injurty attorney in your locality about filing a civil action against the person who filed the false police report. One can be found on attorneypages.com.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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