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Adult Victims of Sexual AssaultUncategorized

False Reporting: Rare and a Crime

By March 7, 2019No Comments

False reporting of crime is frustrating, but it is rare and is usually detectable. Police often respond to life threatening scenarios that need immediate action, but the majority of police work involves gathering information and connecting dots to understand an issue. It is unreasonable to expect police to be at hand the moment something bad happens, which is the reason police so often rely upon victims’ reports and eyewitness accounts to complete a picture. This process involves a great deal of trust  between the victims, the community, and law enforcement. It also places a large responsibility on bystanders to report crimes to the police truthfully.

While it may seem as if this process opens the door for members of the public to manipulate investigations through false reporting, this is quite uncommon. Only 6-8% of sexual assault crimes reported are knowingly false. The belief that false reports are common is an asset to perpetrators of crime. Suspects may try claim that a victim’s police report was knowingly false. They may attempt to clear themselves of a crime by ruining their victim’s credibility. In doing so, these suspects perpetuate the myth that anybody can ruin someone else’s life by false reporting without suffering consequences. This is completely untrue. The few who do falsely report are committing a crime and will face penalties.

Under Oklahoma Statute Title 21, if a person knows that their report is false, if they indicate a potential crime and incite police activity, they have committed a crime. This crime is classified as a misdemeanor, and carries a maximum fine of $500, or a maximum jail term of 90 days. This applies to most false police reports, however these penalties would increase if the false report concerns a missing child. A false report that causes or brings up the possibility of an AMBER alert, is classified as a felony and is punishable by a $1,000 fine, and/or a maximum of one year in prison.

There are some high profile false reporting cases in Oklahoma that may have assisted in establishing the myth that these situations are common. The first case is of Shaneice Barksdale, In 2015, Oklahoma City Officer police officer Daniel Holtzclaw faced trial for multiple allegations of sexual assault. According to newsok.com, one of the accusers was a 26-year-old woman who gave a detailed report of Holtzclaw assaulting her, including the locations to which he drove her, the location he assaulted her, and a physical description of Holtzclaw. Upon investigating her claims, it became clear that the report could not be true. Holtzclaw’s GPS showed he was not in those areas on that day. The description of his height and weight were inaccurate. When confronted with these discrepancies, the woman admitted she made the false report to assist another woman.

A more recent case in December 2018, involved a 23-year-old store cashier in Stillwater. According to Stillwater News Press, she filed a police report claiming that her store was robbed at gunpoint while she was working. Since the store was close to a Stillwater public school, the school was put on alert as police officers searched the area for the potential armed suspect.  The only crime discovered after a brief investigation, was that the cashier fabricated the event.

False reports receive media attention, increasing the belief that this crime is common. These two examples illustrate that discrepancies and lies in actual false reports are typically discovered by investigators. When a suspect accuses the victim of making a false report, it is often a continued victimization of the person. Although false reporting may cause great damage, wasting police resources, greater damage is done by suspects attempting to discredit their victim.

 

As a victim of crime, you may have rights in the civil justice system – in addition to the criminal justice system.  If you have questions, call Koller Trial Law today for a free consultation.