Is Lying to the Police a Crime?

In some situations, lying to the police can be a crime. State and federal statutes prohibit providing false or misleading information to law enforcement officers. For example, in Minnesota, a person can be charged with giving a fake name, making a fraudulent police report, or lying under oath. Likewise, the federal government may prosecute someone who makes false statements to investigators.

Lying to police officers or other law enforcement officials is serious. Depending on what’s involved, the conduct can be a misdemeanor or felony, meaning a conviction can lead to time in jail or prison, fines, and other sanctions.

During any interaction with government authorities, you can remain silent. Exercising this right can prevent you from saying something that may be considered a lie and keep you from facing additional criminal charges.

If you have been accused of an offense in Minneapolis, schedule a consultation with Brockton D. Hunter P.A. by calling (612) 979-1112 or submitting an online contact form today.

Giving a False Name to the Police

Under Minnesota Statutes § 609.506, you can be charged with a crime if you misrepresent yourself to a police officer.

This includes giving a fake:

  • Name,
  • Date of birth, or
  • Identification card.

You are considered to have violated the law if the officer asks about your identity during an investigatory stop, lawful arrest, or while performing other duties and your intent was to obstruct justice.

Providing fictitious identification information is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.

However, if you gave the officer someone else’s name or date of birth (as opposed to one you made up), the crime is a gross misdemeanor. The penalties include a maximum of 1 year in jail and/or no more than $3,000 in fines.

Making a False Crime Report

Another way lying to police officers is illegal is if you file a false crime report with a law enforcement agency (Minnesota Statutes § 609.505). Reporting alleged criminal conduct that you know is incorrect is a misdemeanor. If you’re found guilty, you could be punished by a jail term not to exceed 90 days and/or a fine of no more than $1,000.

You may also face criminal penalties if you alleged that a police officer engaged in misconduct knowing that they hadn’t. If your claim was that the officer did something that did not constitute a crime, you face the maximum penalties for a misdemeanor. However, if you purport that the officers’ actions were criminal, the court can impose the maximum penalties for a gross misdemeanor, which include 1 year in jail and/or $3,000 in fines. Additionally, the court can order you to pay restitution of up to $3,000 for expenses arising from your false report.


Perjury means that you lied under oath. It is one of the most serious criminal offenses concerning deliberately misleading information given to government officials.

Minnesota Statutes § 609.48 provides that a person commits perjury when they provide false material statements:

  • At a hearing or proceeding,
  • In writings for unsworn foreign declarations, or
  • In writings for court documents.

A statement is considered material if it is relied upon to make decisions.

Perjury is a felony punishable by:

  • Up to 7 years of imprisonment and/or up to $14,000 in fines if the statements were made at a felony trial or on an application for an explosives license or permit,
  • Up to 5 years of imprisonment and/or up to $10,000 in fines if the statements were made in any other situation.

Giving False Statements to Federal Agents

Federal law also prohibits lying to law enforcement officials.

Section 1001 of Title 18 of the United States Code says that its an offense to knowingly and willfully:

  • Falsify, conceal, or cover up a material fact;
  • Make a materially false statement; or
  • Use a document containing materially false information.

The crime is a felony punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison.

Your Right to Remain Silent

For the most part, you have the right to remain silent during interactions with police officers or investigators. Generally, you must provide them with your name, date of birth, and address and nothing more. If they ask for anything other than your personal identifying information, you could tell them that you are exercising your right to remain silent.

You should face no criminal penalties for keeping quiet when being questioned by law enforcement officials.

Speak with an Attorney

If you’re being investigated for an alleged offense, talk to an attorney before giving statements to government officials. Your lawyer can explain your rights and prevent you from saying something that might be misconstrued as a lie and lead to additional charges.

At Brockton D. Hunter P.A., we assist the people of Minneapolis through state and federal criminal matters. Speak with a member of our team by contacting us at (612) 979-1112 today.