Police misconduct range from false arrests and coerced false confession to racial profiling, police brutality, and unwarranted searches, among other things. But what about police reports that omit facts or inaccurately describe an accident?
Omitting facts from or providing inaccuracies in a police report may amount to police misconduct, but this usually requires the legal help from an Anaheim police misconduct attorney to make the determination.
Skilled police misconduct lawyers in Anaheim and elsewhere in California will be able to discredit the officer who submitted an inaccurate or false police report, but will the officer be punished by law? Again, it depends.
Holding cops liable for police misconduct in police reports
Apart from the power to arrest people and put them in jail, California law also grants police officers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Riverside, Anaheim and elsewhere across the state the power of writing police reports and crime reports.
The police reports are usually the key document and evidence in any personal injury case, including but not limited to car and pedestrian accidents. More often than not, prosecutors, juries, and judges rely on police reports to decide whether or not to charge, convict or jail the defendant and what amount of monetary compensation to award to the plaintiff.
Fortunately, most police officers in Anaheim and elsewhere in California are honest and ensure that police reports describe the events truthfully and accurately. Sadly, some cops can lie, provide false police reports, omit facts from police reports or submit inaccurate information or evidence.
Since these mistakes in police reports can get innocent people wrongly prosecuted, convicted and even jailed, inaccurately describing an accident or falsifying a police report may amount to police misconduct.
Was the police report signed under penalty of perjury?
“The first thing that you need to realize about linking police reports to police misconduct is that cops write these reports with the knowledge that they will have to defend the statements provided in the report later on in litigation,” explains our experienced police misconduct attorney in Anaheim at the JML Law.
The vast majority of police reports signed by officers in California are signed under penalty of perjury. An oath is signed by cops either directly in the police report or in a separate statement of probable cause attesting that everything that is being stated in the report is truthful to the best of their knowledge.
Prosecuting of police officers for lying in police reports
Therefore, if a police officer is caught knowingly making false statements in the police report, he or she may be prosecuted under California perjury laws. Our best police misconduct lawyers in California note, however, that state laws do not require oath or affirmation, which is why some police officers choose to submit reports (crime reports, investigation reports, witness statements, follow-up reports, etc.) without signing an oath.
Regardless of whether the police report was signed under penalty of perjury, the police officer who knowingly provides false information in his or her report can be prosecuted.
Were the false statements made knowingly and intentionally?
The key factor in determining whether or not the inaccurate or false police report constitutes police misconduct is to prove or disprove that the false statements provided in the report were knowingly and intentionally made false when writing the report.
In many cases, police officers may misrepresent certain details of an accident or incident based on misperception or inaccurate recollection of memories. Many police reports are written by cops hours or even days after witnessing or investigating a certain criminal or personal injury crime.
If a mistake in a police report was made unintentionally, accidentally and unknowingly, the police officer may not be held liable for police misconduct. If an officer is lying or providing false information with an intent to deceive, he or she may be prosecuted under California perjury laws.
If a police officer’s story differs from that of you or your family member, seek the immediate legal advice of an Anaheim police misconduct attorney at the JML Law. Only an experienced lawyer can poke holes in the police report and determine whether or not the statements provided by the officer were knowingly and intentionally false. Call our offices at 818-610-8800 or complete this contact form.