Interacting with the police can be confusing, frustrating, or outright terrifying. You may know that you have certain rights, like the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney, but how do these apply to your unique situation? What happens if you decide to talk and end up telling a lie to a police officer? In this blog, I’ll address what happens if you’re accused of lying to the police in Michigan.
Simply put, you can face criminal charges if you lie to a police officer.
Michigan Penal Code § 750.479c states that a person who is informed by law enforcement of a criminal investigation cannot: “Knowingly and willfully make any statement to the peace officer that the person knows is false or misleading regarding a material fact in that criminal investigation.” This also applies to concealing material facts and giving written statements or providing false documents to law enforcement pertaining to a criminal investigation.
In Michigan, the penalties for lying to the police are as follows:
- For an investigation into a serious misdemeanor offense, lying to the police is also a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 93 days in jail or a fine of up to $500.
- For an investigation into a misdemeanor punishable by more than 1 year in jail or a felony punishable by less than 4 years in prison, lying to the police is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
- For an investigation into a felony punishable by 4 or more years in prison, lying to the police is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 2 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
- For an investigation into a serious and violent felony offense such as human trafficking, kidnapping, armed robbery, terrorism, murder, arson, or carjacking, lying to the police is a felony punishable by up to 4 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
What About My Fifth Amendment Rights?
The Fifth Amendment outlines a number of rights related to criminal proceedings, and one of these is protection against self-incrimination. American citizens cannot be made to testify against themselves and have the right to remain silent if taken into custody. In fact, this is a valid defense against charges filed under Michigan Penal Code § 750.479c. You cannot be charged with lying to the police if you invoked your right to remain silent. This does not mean, however, that the Fifth Amendment opens the door to a person making false statements to a police officer. Choose to remain silent, and you cannot be charged with lying.
The Police Are Allowed to Lie to You
What’s interesting—and crucial—to note is that the police are allowed to lie to you. If you’re taken into custody or arrested, they may say almost anything to try to get you to make incriminating statements, offer information, or do something that could end up supporting their case against you. Police have been known to say they already have evidence against you, that they can offer a reduced sentence if you confess, or that they have an accomplice ready to testify. The most important thing you can do is remain silent. Don’t try to explain, don’t object, and don’t lie. Politely request to have your attorney present and then exercise your right to remain silent.
Exceptions & Defenses to Michigan Penal Code § 750.479c
There are exceptions and defenses to Michigan Penal Code § 750.479c. This law cannot prevent a person from deciding not to speak, and it does not apply to victims of crimes or those in fear for their safety or the safety of others.
The criminal charge of lying to the police does not apply to:
- The victim of the crime that the police officer is investigating.
- A person who is acting under duress or reasonable fear for their safety (in cases of domestic violence).
- A person who has invoked their right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment.
- A person who has declined to speak or communicate with an officer during an investigation.
A Farmington Hills Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
If you’ve been accused of lying to the police, you may face misdemeanor or felony charges. The best thing to do is to request an attorney and then remain silent. As a Farmington Hills criminal defense attorney who has been fighting for clients’ rights in Oakland County and across Michigan since 2002, I know what’s at stake. I put in the time and effort it takes to get the results my clients need. To find out more, give me a call at (248) 599-0054.