Under NRS § 207.280, Nevada law makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly make a false police report that causes law enforcement to conduct an investigation. The penalties for false reporting of a crime include up to six months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.
The offense is often referred to as :
- false reporting, or
- making a false report of a crime.
NRS 207.280 states that:
Every person who deliberately reports to any police officer, sheriff, district attorney, deputy sheriff, deputy district attorney or member of the Department of Public Safety that a felony or misdemeanor has been committed, which causes a law enforcement agency to conduct a criminal or internal investigation, knowing such report to be false, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. Is it illegal in Nevada to lie to the police about a crime?
- 2. Can I go to jail for making a false police report?
- 3. How do I fight NRS 207.280 charges?
- 4. Are there immigration consequences?
- 5. Can the record be sealed?
1. Is it illegal in Nevada to lie to the police about a crime?
Nevada law prohibits knowingly making a false report to law enforcement that a crime has occurred if this false report then causes law enforcement to conduct a criminal investigation or internal investigation.
It does not matter whether the false reporting of a crime is made orally in person, over a phone call, or through writing or electronic communication. And NRS 207.280 applies when the defendant allegedly makes the false report to any of the following members of law enforcement:
- police officers
- sheriffs or deputy sheriffs
- district attorneys or deputy district attorneys
- any member of the Nevada Department of Public Safety1
A common scenario is when an angry spouse lies to the police about the other spouse committing battery domestic violence (NRS 200.485). If the police investigate and determine that the reporting spouse was not being truthful, prosecutors may press charges against him or her for the false reporting of a crime.
2. Can I go to jail for making a false police report?
As a misdemeanor in Nevada, the false reporting of a crime is punishable by:
- up to 6 months in jail, and/or
- up to $1,000 in fines
Therefore, the judge has the discretion to impose only a fine with no jail time.2
3. How do I fight NRS 207.280 charges?
Three common defenses to Nevada charges of making a false police report are:
- No deliberateness. It is unlawful to report a crime to law enforcement personnel only if the person reporting it knew it was false. So if the defendant honestly believed that a crime had been committed and was acting in good faith, no law has been broken.
- No investigation. A person should not be convicted of false crime reporting unless the police department took the initiative to investigate the matter. So if a defense attorney can show that law enforcement commenced no investigation into the crime report, the case should be dismissed.
- A crime had been committed. Just because a police investigation did not turn up evidence of a crime does not mean that a crime did not occur. If the defense attorney can show that the misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony that the defendant reported did in fact happen, the charges should be dropped.
In any criminal case that reaches trial, prosecutors have the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the D.A. fails to meet this burden, then the defendant must be acquitted.
4. Are there immigration consequences?
Filing a false police report is potentially a crime involving moral turpitude and therefore deportable.3 Therefore, non-citizens facing criminal charges should retain an experienced lawyer immediately to attempt to get the charge dismissed or changed to a non-deportable crime.
5. Can the record be sealed?
Nevada convictions for filing a false police report can be sealed from the defendant’s criminal record one year after the case ends. And dismissals can be sealed immediately.4
Note that the record seal process itself takes several months. Learn how to seal Nevada criminal records.
For Additional Help…
Anyone facing criminal charges are invited to call our DUI/criminal law firm for legal advice. Our defense lawyers represent clients throughout the state of Nevada, including Henderson, North Las Vegas, Reno, Carson City, Clark County, and Washoe County.
Also see our article on obstructing a police officer (NRS 197.190).
In California? Go to our article on what to do if you’re falsely accused of a crime in California.
- NRS 207.280.
- Diaz v. Uribe (2012, U.S. District Court for Central District of California) Case No. EDCV 12-0861-VBF (RNB).
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.