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Maybe you thought giving police a fake ID after being pulled over would save you from an arrest.

Or that filing a false police report to get back at your neighbor couldn’t get you in trouble.

Giving false information to law enforcement is a crime and could land you in jail for up to five years. We’ve broken this information down so that you can understand what you could be facing.

What will happen if I lie to the police?

There are three situations involving lying to police or other law enforcement that are specifically covered under SC code.

These are:

  • Filing a false police report
  • Making a false complaint to police, rescue squad or fire department
  • Misrepresenting identification to police

Because each of these are slightly different – and result in different consequences – we’ll discuss them one at a time.

Filing a False Police Report

Under SC law, it is unlawful to make a false claim on a police report.

What does filing a false police report mean?

You violate this law by lying completely, or in part, on an official police report.

For example, if you file a police report saying that your roommate stole your television even though you know your roommate didn’t steal your television, you are in violation of this law.

If your roommate did steal your TV, but you file a report saying he stole not only your TV, but your laptop and your credit cards too (even though you know your roommate did not), you are also violating this law.

If you think your roommate stole your TV, so you file a police report, but it later turns out that someone else was guilty of stealing, you are not violating this law.

In order to face consequences for filing a false police report, you need to have knowingly lied.

What are the consequences for filing a false police report?

The specific consequences you face for filing a false police report will depend on what level of crime you said someone committed in your original report.

Type of Crime Reported Fines Jail Time
Misdemeanor Up to $500 Up to 30 days
Felony Up to $1,000 Up to 5 years
* You could face fines, jail time or both.

Along with these consequences, you may also be required to pay restitution—the cost it takes the police to investigate your false claim.

Making False Complaints to Police, Rescue Squad or Fire Department

Under SC law, it’s unlawful to make a false complained to any law enforcement agency, including police, rescue squad, or fire department.

What does making a false complaint to police, rescue squad or fire department mean?

Making a false complaint to police, rescue squad, or fire department is similar to filing a false police report.

The primary difference between these two situations is that, when making a false complaint, this complaint can be verbal. It isn’t a formal and filed police report.

If, for example, the fire department comes to put out a fire in your apartment and you tell them that you saw your neighbor set the fire, even though you didn’t see your neighbor do this, you are violating this law.

As with filing a false police report, you have to knowingly have lied.

What are the consequences for making a false complaint to police, rescue squad or fire department?

If you make a false complaint, you face a misdemeanor charge, which can result in either a fine or jail time, not both.

Type Fines Jail Time
Misdemeanor up to $200 up to 30 days

Misrepresenting Identification to Police

Under SC law, it’s unlawful to knowingly give police false identification.

What does misrepresenting identification to the police mean?

You’re misrepresenting identification to the police if you lie to the police about who you are in order to get out of a traffic charge or to avoid being arrested.

It doesn’t matter whether you gave the police a fake identification card, or you just verbally gave the police a different name when they asked who you are. Either one is a violation of the law.

What are the consequences for misrepresenting identification to police?

If you commit this crime, you face a misdemeanor charge, which can result in either a fine or jail time, not both.

Type Fines Jail Time
Misdemeanor up to $200 up to 30 days

So, what should I do when interacting with SC police?

Remember, if the police or other law enforcement ask you something, you don’t have to answer.

However, when you do answer, tell the truth.

Lying to avoid a charge is never a good idea, as it will probably result in your facing even more charges.

If you’ve already made this mistake, or your facing another charge you need help with, get legal support.

Call us at 803-808-0905 to set up a consultation. You can also fill out our online contact form, and we’ll be in touch with you.

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