When you are worried that you or someone you care about may be in trouble, it can be tempting to tell a white lie to law enforcement. Similarly, it can be tempting to stretch the truth in order to get a license or process finished more quickly. However, both of these actions are illegal. In Cincinnati, making a false statement is called falsification, and it is a crime.
Under the Ohio Revised Code (2921.13), it is illegal to make false statements to police or government officials or representatives under certain circumstances. In general, during any official government proceeding or investigation, you are expected to tell the truth in any statements that you give to the police—or to simply exercise your right to remain silent. If law enforcement catches you in a lie, they are likely to charge you with anything from falsification to obstruction of justice. No matter what the charge, however, such lies will be dealt with harshly. Police don’t like to be lied to, so no matter how small your lie or even if it was accidental, you are unlikely to be shown leniency.
When a False Statement Is Considered Falsification
Under Ohio law, there are only certain circumstances under which a lie becomes the crime of falsification. The following are some of the most common situations in which it is illegal to make false statements:
- During an official proceeding
- When it misleads a public official performing his or her duties
- While trying to obtain welfare, food stamps, unemployment, or any other government benefit
- While applying for official government documentation, such as a license or permit
- If it falsely incriminates another person
- While under oath or otherwise involved in official legal proceedings
- In furtherance of a theft or some other crime
- When it is written in an application or other document used to try to obtain employment, a degree, a diploma or certificate, an award of excellence or honor, or any other valuable distinction
- In connection with a gun, tobacco, or alcohol purchase
As you can see, the falsification statute in Ohio law is broadly applied, so it is best to assume that if you are interacting with any government employee, official, or authority figure, it is illegal to make false statements.
Consequences of a Falsification Conviction
False statements can be punished harshly, as law enforcement does not usually take kindly to being mislead—even if you thought you were telling the truth. Although the law stipulates that you must know or should have known the statement was false, any false statement can usually be grounds enough for charges. Depending on the severity of the allegations, you can be charged with anything from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony. In many cases, there will be a high level of pressure to charge you to the fullest extent of the law, which is why you can find yourself in real trouble if you don’t have a Cincinnati criminal defense lawyer advocating for you.
If you are convicted of misdemeanor falsification, you face up to 180 days in prison and a $1,000 fine. If charged with a third-degree felony, however, you face up to five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. This does not even take into consideration the other serious career and social consequences of such charges. In addition, law enforcement may be prejudiced against your assertions in the future.
Fighting Falsification Charges
If you are accused of making a false statement, it is not a minor charge. You face real jail time, and law enforcement is unlikely to have any sympathy for your explanation, no matter what your side of the story. At Luftman, Heck, and Associates, though, we know that there is always more to the story in these cases. We will ensure your rights are protected throughout the legal proceedings and never stop putting your best interests first. Call Cincinnati criminal defense lawyer Brad Groene today at (513) 338-1890 or email us at email@example.com for a free consultation on your case. Discover how we may be able to help.
Facing criminal charges? Contact us today.
Criminal charges can be an overwhelming and frightening experience. You are probably worried about your freedoms and privileges being at stake and have a lot of questions. You can rest assured, because Cincinnati criminal defense lawyer Brad Groene is here for you. Get the justice that you deserve. Contact us today at (513) 338-1890 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.