IS FILING A FALSE POLICE REPORT A CRIME?
While most people recognize that filing a police report that is untrue is ethically suspect, many are surprised to learn that filing a false report is against the law. Like many crimes in New Jersey, filing a false police report can be charged in multiple degrees depending on the severity of the alleged conduct.
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:28-4(a) False Reports to Law Enforcement Authorities any person who falsely incriminates another can be charged with a fourth-degree indictable offense. An indictable offense is similar to a felony in New Jersey. The statute states:
A person who knowingly gives or causes to be given false information to any law enforcement officer with purpose to implicate another commits a crime of the fourth degree.
Thus, there is the mens rea element that the person knowingly, meaning he or she is aware that the circumstances exist or aware that a high probability of the circumstances exist. The state must also show that the person had the intent to falsely accuse another person of a crime.
This offense can also be charged at the disorderly persons level when
(a) Reports or causes to be reported to law enforcement authorities as offense or other incident within their concern knowing that it did not occur; or
(b) Pretends to furnish or causes to be furnished such authorities with information relating to an offense or incident when he knows he has no information relating to such offence or incident.
Thus there are two circumstances where a person can face the lower level of making a false report to law enforcement. The first occurs when a person reports or induces another to report an incident or offense. The other circumstance boils down to an individual who wastes the time of law enforcement agents by pretending to have information about an offense or incident when he or she does not.
WHAT PENALTIES CAN I FACE FOR FILING A FAKE POLICE REPORT?
In New Jersey, a fourth-degree indictable offense is a crime carrying serious consequences. A defendant who is convicted of a fourth-degree indictable offense can be sentenced to serve up to eighteen months in state prison. A fine up to $10,000 can also be imposed. For the disorderly persons version of the offense, the possibility of facing up to six months in jail exists. In most cases, due to the presumption against incarceration for first-time offenders, a jail term will not be ordered. However, it is important to note that a disorderly persons offense is a crime and will result in a criminal record.
In the video directly above, hear two young men representing Lyndhurst07071.com interacting with a crowd in Town Hall Park on July 18, 2018. Judge for yourself if they are threatening to anyone. The video ends with Joyce DiMaggio approaching the two young men that same evening. (We also have recorded, for future release, the entire 20 minute conversation that night of Joyce DiMaggio approaching these two men and talking almost non-stop.) Later, on August 8, 2018, the same two young men returned to the same park to again hand out cards. They were joined by a third person, a college student who Sheriff Sgt. DiMaggio described as "African American" when DiMaggio anonymously called the Lyndhurst Police that night. (See the top video.) On the facts, Sheriff Sgt. Tony DiMaggio knowingly misled the LPD on August 8, 2018, when he anonymously called an emergency police line and reported the young men as "suspicious guys", giving out "hate flyers" (neither claim was true and provably false).