False Reporting of Domestic Violence

reporting domestic violenceIf you are accused of making a false police report or obstruction of justice in Washington State, you are facing gross misdemeanor charges. Both crimes carry a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine. The official names of the charges are “making a false or misleading statement to a public servant” and “obstructing a law enforcement officer.”

These charges can be filed against the alleged victims of a domestic violence crime. In some cases, an alleged victim of domestic violence is trying to protect the person that they originally accused of a crime. In other cases, there may have been a misunderstanding.

In either scenario, a criminal defense attorney should be contacted immediately. This attorney should not be the same person who is representing the defendant on domestic violence charges, as the court would consider this a conflict of interest.

Arrest & Prosecution Process

In WA State, the police create an arrest report that is then assigned to the prosecutor. If the prosecutor discovers that the “accuser” attempted to recant their story, they can file charges for making a false police report or obstruction of justice.

In a different scenario, you may have spoken directly with the prosecutor and told them that you don’t want to press charges against the defendant. In these situations, the prosecutor will often times not drop the charges, since they can still subpoena you to testify and they can use your statements that were made to police and the 911 operator.

Defense Strategies

Conversations with law enforcement and prosecutors can be dangerous. If there is a miscommunication or lapse in memory, you can be unfairly charged with a crime.

Common defenses include:

  • You thought that you were telling the truth
  • There was a simple misunderstanding
  • The information that was untrue was not important or relevant
  • The untrue information was not likely to be relied on by a public servant
  • You forgot important parts of the story
  • You were under the influence of intoxicants and did not intentionally provide a false statement

If you are accused of filing a false police report or obstruction, it is a good idea to exercise your right to remain silent and immediately contact an attorney. The police and prosecutors are not on your side so it is unlikely that you will be able to talk your way out of the situation.