By Dallas and Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
It is illegal in Texas for a person to make a false report to a peace officer or a law enforcement employee. Texas Penal Code 37.08 is the governing statute. That provision states,
“(a) A person commits an offense if, with intent to deceive, he knowingly makes a false statement that is material to a criminal investigation and makes the statement to:
“(1) a peace officer conducting the investigation; or
“(2) any employee of a law enforcement agency that is authorized by the agency to conduct the investigation and that the actor knows is conducting the investigation.
“(b) In this section, “law enforcement agency” has the meaning assigned by Article 59.01, Code of Criminal Procedure.
“(c) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor.
A common situation where this law comes into play is in assault/ family violence cases. Often, alleged victims of an assault will seek to retract or deny having made a previous statement to law enforcement. In those situations, they could actually be exposing themselves to criminal liability for making a false statement.
It is not uncommon in assault/ family violence situations for alleged victims to seek counsel of their own (not the same attorney representing their spouse charged with assault) if they retract their original statement or admit under oath that their original statement was false. The alleged victim has important rights in this scenario as well and a lawyer can help protect them from incurring legal liability themselves in these cases.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article should be considered legal advice. For specific legal advice for any specific situation you should directly consult an attorney.