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:
- 1. What Constitutes False Reporting In Colorado?
- 2. Penalties for False Reporting in Colorado
- 2.1 False Reporting Penalties
- 2.2 Penalties for False Report of Explosives, Weapons or Harmful Substances
- 3. Defenses to Colorado False Reporting Charges
- 4. Related Offenses
There are two separate false reporting crimes in Colorado. They are defined as follows:
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.
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
Because there are two statutes that describe false reporting, these crimes also have two separate punishments.
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
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.
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.
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 . . .
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.
- C. R. S. § 18-8-111
- C. R. S. § 18-8-110
- Colorado Senate Bill 18-068 (2018).