It must have felt strange – to know that everyone in your hometown, not to mention the FBI, thought you had been kidnapped when, in actuality, you were safe at a relative’s home. Yet, this is exactly what happened to a 30-year-old woman from Vallejo. Allegedly, her boyfriend, a 30-year-old man, called the police earlier this week and told them that she had been forcibly kidnapped and taken from a home on Mare Island. As it turns out, she was at her father’s house in Huntington Beach all along. No one kidnapped her, no one harmed her, and it remains to be seen exactly why her boyfriend believed this to be true. In fact, in cases like this it is likely that, unless he can provide some kind of rational evidence to the contrary, he may be facing charges of filing a false police report (CA Penal Code 148.5)
While making false claims to law enforcement agents may seem like a petty kind of crime when compared to more serious violations of the law, California law takes it seriously. California Penal Code 148.5 makes it illegal to make a false report to the police. The rationale behind the law is simple: making false statements to persons who are given the job of protecting public interests (like police, prosecutors, a grand jury, or any other person such as a 911 operator) wastes their time. Moments they could be spending following more productive leads and dealing with more violent and dangerous criminals.
A violation of CA PC 148.5 is a misdemeanor, however. Anyone convicted of this crime will likely face up to 6 months in county jail. How long an individual spends in jail is up to the judge, they will take into consideration a number of factors when determining an appropriate sentence. For example, a judge might take into account an individual’s criminal history, their justification for making a false report (in other words, does there seem to have been a good reason for having made false claims), and the actual consequences of having made the false report (was anyone harmed or taken into custody on the strength of the false claims).
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