Information on crimes that are commonly charged in Michigan. If you need legal assistance, please contact a lawyer.
Statute: MCL 750.411a
Crime Group: Public Order
Sentence Class: Varies:
Minimum Sentence: 0 Days
Maximum Sentence1: Varies:
Maximum Fine: Varies; $500 for Misdemeanor, ranges from $2,000 to $50,000 for Felonies
Jury Instructions: MCJI2d 13.19
Sex Offender Registration Required: No
(1) Except as otherwise provided . . ., a person who intentionally makes a false report of the commission of a crime, or intentionally causes a false report of the commission of a crime to be made, to a peace officer, police agency of this state or of a local unit of government, 9-1-1 operator, or any other governmental employee or contractor or employee of a contractor who is authorized to receive reports of a crime, knowing the report is false, is guilty of a crime as follows:
(a) Except as provided in subdivisions (b) through (e), if the report is a false report of a misdemeanor, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both.
(b) Except as provided in subdivisions (c) through (e), if the report is a false report of a felony, the person is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both.
(c) Except as provided in subdivisions (d) and (e), if the false report results in a response to address the reported crime and a person incurs physical injury as a proximate result of lawful conduct arising out of that response, the person responsible for the false report is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years or a fine of not more than $20,000.00, or both.
(d) If the false report results in a response to address the reported crime and a person incurs serious impairment of a body function as a proximate result of lawful conduct arising out of that response, the person responsible for the false report is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $25,000.00, or both.
(e) If the false report results in a response to address the reported crime and a person is killed as a proximate result of lawful conduct arising out of that response, the person responsible for the false report is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 15 years or a fine of not less than $25,000.00 or more than $50,000.00, or both.
It is a crime in the State of Michigan to file a false police report. Not only does this include false reports of crime (such as claiming that an assault occurred when, in fact, no assault occurred), but also the knowing inclusion of inaccurate information in reports of a crime that did occur (claiming the perpetrator was someone specific while knowing that person was not involved, inflating the number or value of items stolen, and so on). These cases frequently arise from divorce cases (where one spouse falsely claims the other was abusing the children to get a “leg up” in custody proceedings), the end of romantic relationships (where one party falsely accuses the other of assaulting him/her as “revenge”), or employment cases (where an employer falsely reports the employee for theft as an excuse to fire the employee).
To convict a defendant of this crime, the prosecution must prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, if the prosecutor can not prove that the only reasonable explanation for the evidence is that the defendant knowingly filed a false police report, then the jury can not convict. For the crime of Filing a False Police Report, the prosecutor must prove:
Depending on the conviction being sought, the prosecutor may also have to prove that the crime reported was a felony, and that one or more people were injured or killed as a result of the false report. In this respect, the statute relating to false reports is unusual; depending on the circumstances, the same actions may result in anything from a misdemeanor charge to a felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
The most difficult element for the prosecution to prove is often the “knowing” element: people who have witnessed a crime or been the victim of a crime often perceive things inaccurately or remember them incorrectly. For this reason, a person may claim that the perpetrator was a tall white man when, in fact, it turns out that she was a short, Asian woman. Or, a person may report that jewelry was stolen during a burglary, only to later discover it had just been misplaced.
It is extremely important to be represented by an attorney for cases like this, as prosecutors often try to bully defendants into pleading guilty as charged under the threat of amending the charge to something more serious if they refuse. Only an experienced attorney can determine how hollow those threats may be, and an attorney will often be able to convince the prosecutor to allow a plea to a lesser charge, or to allow for a diversionary program of some sort. For instance, a defendant who is between the ages of 17 and 21 (or between 21 and 24 years of age with approval from the prosecutor) may be eligible for sentencing under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (“HYTA”, MCL 762.11). If a defendant is sentenced under HYTA, the court allows the defendant to offer a guilty plea, but takes the plea “under advisement” without entering it as a conviction. The court will then place the defendant on probation for a term set by the court. A defendant who successfully completes the probation will have all charges dropped and no public record of the offense will remain. However, a defendant who does not successfully complete the HYTA probation will have his/her probation revoked, the conviction will be entered, and a new (usually harsher) sentence will be imposed without a trial. HYTA status may be granted by a judge as many times as the judge wants; there is no “one per lifetime” limitation (although many judges do have a “one HYTA” policy). There are other options that may allow a defendant who does not qualify for HYTA—due to age or another reason—to have a deferred sentence with a similar outcome, but the feasibility of such an outcome is very case-specific.
A defendant convicted under this statute will typically be sentenced under the Michigan sentencing guidelines, and it is impossible to say for sure what the sentence will be in any particular case because sentences are fact-specific. While fines and probation are common, many defendants are also sentenced to serve time in the county jail. It is rare for first-time offenders to receive sentences exceeding 12 months, which would require the defendant to go to prison.
1Maximum sentence shown is for a first-time felony offender. Prior felonies make a defendant liable for “Habitual Offender” (“HO”) sentencing enhancement. Thus, a defendant with prior felonies faces greatly increased maximum sentences.
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