Providing a fictitious report (or “false report”) to a law enforcement official in New Jersey is a disorderly persons offense. The particular New Jersey statute that deals with false reports is N.J.S. 2C:28-4b. Here is what N.J.S. 2C:28-4b says:
Fictitious reports. A person commits a disorderly persons offense if he:
- Reports or causes to be reported to law enforcement authorities an offense or other incident within their concern knowing that it did not occur; or
- Pretends to furnish or causes to be furnished such authorities with information relating to an offense or incident when he knows he has no information relating to such offense or incident.
Giving a false name to a police officer following an arrest violates this statute. Merely refusing to respond at all to police questioning does not constitute giving false report to a law enforcement officer. But once a person does provide information, that information must be truthful.
Note that no “mutuality of lies” law exists. That is, law enforcement officers are permitted to lie to a suspect (or to anyone else), for whatever reason. When a law enforcement offices lies to a suspect, he is not commiting an offense under N.J.S. 2C:28-4b, or under any other statute. Officers lie on a regular basis in efforts to get suspects to reveal incriminating information. Incriminating information provided as a result of those lies is admissible in court against the speaker.
The second part of N.J.S. 2C:28-4b makes it an offense to provide information about a crime or other event when, in fact, the provider knows that he has no such information. Thus a person who has no knowledge of an event who calls the police for the mere purpose of saying that has no information, although completely truthful, arguably violates N.J.S. 2C:28-4b.
Allan Marain and Norman Epting, Jr. are New Jersey criminal defense lawyers. Their combined experience exceeds sixty-five years. For that entire time, both have focused on defending persons charged with violating New Jersey statutes. That would include New Jersey criminal and disorderly persons statutes. It would also include traffic charges, as well as allegations of juvenile delinquency. Both are available to discuss your situation in a no-charge no-obligation conference. Call them to discuss your situation.