Colorado “False Reporting of a Crime" Laws
C.R.S. (18-8-110, 18-8-111)

Colorado law makes it a crime willfully to provide false information to the police or other authorities. Examples would include making a false report of a crime or setting off a firearm merely as a prank. These offenses are generally treated as Colorado Class 3 Misdemeanors which carry up to 6 months in jail. In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will discuss:

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Falsely reporting a crime can be a misdemeanor, petty offense, or felony in the state of Colorado.

1. What Constitutes False Reporting in Colorado?

There are two separate false reporting crimes in Colorado. They are defined as follows:

1.1 False Reporting to Authorities (C. R. S. § 18-8-111)

False reporting to authorities is defined as the act of knowingly: 1

  • activating manually, or by any other means falsely causing the activation of a fire alarm or other emergency exit alarm
  • preventing the activation of a fire or emergency alarm by any means
  • creating a false report or causing a false report to be transmitted to law enforcement authorities with the knowledge that the crime or incident did nor occur
  • presenting information related to an offense that is known to be false
  • providing false identification to law enforcement authorities

A person commits "false reporting of an emergency" if he/she knowingly falsely reports to authorities which includes an imminent threat to the safety of a person(s) by use of a deadly weapon.

1.2 False Report of Explosives, Weapons or Harmful Substances (C. R. S. § 18-8-110)

A person commits the crime of making a false report of explosives, weapons or harmful substances if they knowingly falsely report to any other person that one of the following has been placed in a public or private place or vehicle: 2

  • bomb, or other explosive
  • chemical or biological agents
  • poison or weapons
  • harmful radioactive substance

2. Penalties for False Reporting Crimes in Colorado

Because there are two statutes that describe false reporting, these crimes also have two separate punishments.

2.1 False Reporting Penalties

False reporting is normally a class 3 misdemeanor, except in cases where a person deliberately causes an alarm to go off while committing another crime, in which case it will be a Colorado class 2 misdemeanor. Class 3 misdemeanors are punishable by up to 6 months of jail time and fines between $50 and $750. A class 2 misdemeanor is punishable by jail time between 3 to 12 months, and fines between $250 to $1,000.

False reporting of an emergency is a class 1 misdemeanor, carrying:

  • 6 to 10 months in jail, and/or
  • $500 to $5,000 in fines

It is an extraordinary risk crime if:

  • the threat causes the occupants of a location to be evacuated or displaced
  • the emergency response results in bodily injury to another person

The extraordinary risk penalties for a class 1 misdemeanor are:

  • 6 to 24 months in jail, and/or
  • $500 to $5,000 in fines

False reporting of an emergency is a class 4 felony if the emergency response results in serious bodily injury of another person, carrying:

  • 2 to 6 years in Colorado State Prison, and/or
  • and/or $2,000 to $500,000 in fines

There is also a mandatory parole period of 3 years.

And it is a class 3 felony if the response results in death of another person, carrying:

  • 4 to 12 years in prison, and/or
  • $3,000 to $750,000 in fines

There is also a mandatory parole period of 3 years.3

2.2 Penalties for False Report of Explosives, Weapons or Harmful Substances

A conviction on falsely reporting explosives, weapons, or harmful substances will result in a class 6 felony. A class 6 felony is punishable by 12 to 18 months of jail time, and fines between $1,000 to $100,000.

3. Defenses to Colorado False Reporting Charges

These crimes rely on a person performing these acts with the knowledge that the report they are making is false. A simple defense to these acts would be if a person believed their report to be genuine. In addition, if the allegedly false act did, in fact, occur, then the charges will also no longer have merit.

4. Related Offenses

Obstructing a Peace Officer (C.R.S. § 18-8-104)

It is also a crime in Colorado to use or threaten violence, force, physical interference, or an obstacle in order to knowingly prevent or try to keep the following from doing their job: a peace officer (or law enforcement animal), firefighter (or firefighting animal), emergency medical service provider, rescue specialist, or an unpaid volunteer acting in good faith to render care/assistance at the scene of an emergency/accident. Obstructing a Peace officer is a misdemeanor offense.

Call Us For Help . . .

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If you or someone you know has been charged with a false reporting crime, please do not hesitate to contact our Colorado criminal defense attorneys. You can reach our office at (303) 222-0330, or contact us online.

Legal References

  1. C. R. S. § 18-8-111
  2. C. R. S. § 18-8-110
  3. Colorado Senate Bill 18-068 (2018).

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