Washington law makes it a crime for you to make a false report of an emergency. Depending on the facts of the case, the crime can lead to either misdemeanor or felony charges and possible confinement in jail or state prison. Please contact a skilled criminal defense attorney now if you or a loved one is facing a charge of false reporting.

How Does Washington Law Define “False Reporting”?

RCW 9A.84.040 is the Washington statute that sets forth the crime of false reporting. Per this law, you commit an offense if you:

  1. Initiate a false report or warning of an alleged occurrence or an impending occurrence,
  2. Do so knowing that the report is false, and
  3. Do so and the false report causes evacuation of a building/facility, inconvenience or alarm, or an emergency response.

Consider, for example, the scenario where you call 9-1-1 and lie by saying that you saw an explosive in a grocery store. As a result, authorities get sent to the store and the store is evacuated. Here, you are guilty of making a false report.

What are the Penalties?

Depending on the facts of your case, a prosecutor can charge false reporting as either a class B felony, class C felony, or gross misdemeanor. In terms of penalties, note the following:

  • A class B felony is punishable by a state prison term of up to 10 years and a maximum fine of $20,000,
  • A class C felony is punishable by a state prison term of up to 5 years and a maximum fine of $10,000, and
  • A gross misdemeanor is punishable by a jail term of up to one year and a maximum fine of $5,000.

Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?

Yes. You have the right to challenge a false reporting charge with a legal defense. Recall that you are only guilty of this crime if you knew that a report was truly false. Therefore, you can always raise a defense by saying you did not have this knowledge. Maybe, for example, you made a false report of an emergency truly believing that an emergency had taken place.

Further, you can only get convicted of this offense if there was some reaction to your false report, like an evacuation or an emergency response. This means that your criminal defense attorney can always try to contest a charge by showing that your report did not result in one of these reactions.

A final defense is for your criminal defense lawyer to show that the police somehow violated your rights. Perhaps, for example, you were arrested without probable cause or only after the police coerced your confession. In the event of either of these, a judge could decide to dismiss your charges.

Contact Black & Askerov for Help

While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a false reporting charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on both misdemeanor and felony charges. Our attorneys will fight tooth and nail for you at every step of your case. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!