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Understanding False Information Charges

Understanding False Information Charges

False information charges hold significant weight in the realm of law enforcement, particularly in South Carolina. Anyone who knowingly provides misleading or inaccurate details to law enforcement officers may face criminal charges, as outlined in South Carolina's Code of Laws.

This crime, classified as a misdemeanor, carries a potential punishment of up to 30 days in jail.

Most cases related to providing false information are handled within the jurisdiction of the magistrate or municipal court. However, beyond the immediate legal consequences, one must also consider the long-term implications. A criminal record can cast a shadow over your personal and professional life for years to come.

This blog post aims to shed light on the complexities of such charges, offering a deeper understanding of the laws and potential repercussions.

Obstruction of Justice vs. False Information

Many people do not realize that providing false information to law enforcement officers is a type of public corruption crime. This action undermines the efficiency of law enforcement agents and the court system, significantly obstructing the administration of justice.

Obstruction of justice, a broader term, denotes any intentional action that impedes or interferes with the administration of justice. This common law offense is punishable by up to ten years imprisonment.

Some acts categorized as obstruction of justice include:

  • Preventing a witness from testifying
  • Tampering with official documents
  • Knowingly providing misleading information during an investigation
  • Destroying of altering evidence in a criminal case

Meanwhile, providing false information, a specific type of obstruction of justice involves giving incorrect details to law enforcement officers. This misdemeanor is defined by S.C. Code Section 16-17-725.

South Carolina also has an offense called misprison of a felony. Although not a commonly charged offense, this is applicable when someone is accused of criminal neglect to either prevent the commission of a felony or to bring a felon to justice. It requires some positive act of concealment, not simply mere silence or failure to come forward. The maximum sentence for this offense is three years imprisonment. 

Acts constituting false information can range include:

  • Falsely filing a police report
  • Fabricating a fire or medical emergency
  • Providing a fake identity to evade arrest or criminal prosecution

Thus, while both obstruction of justice and providing false information are public corruption crimes, they differ in scope. The former encapsulates a broader range of actions that hinder the administration of justice, whereas the latter specifically targets the dissemination of untruthful information to law enforcement.

What To Do If You Are Facing False Information Charges

If you are faced with charges of providing false information to law enforcement in South Carolina, it can be an unsettling experience. The potential consequences can be severe and have a lasting impact on your life. Although it may seem like this is a minor offense, where you may only be sentenced to a small fine, a conviction can have severe consequences on your employment, ability to pass background checks, and your reputation in the community. 

Here are some steps you should consider taking:

  • Hire a criminal defense attorney: This should be your first step. A seasoned attorney can help you navigate the complexities of the legal system, understand the charges against you, and build a robust defense strategy.
  • Remain silent: You have the right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment. It is crucial not to provide any more information to law enforcement without an attorney present.
  • Take the time to prepare for court: If your case goes to trial, you will need to be ready. Do not assume that your innocence is self-evident or that it will just work out somehow. Preparation is of the utmost importance. Your attorney can help you understand the court process and what to expect.

Benefits of Consulting a Criminal Defense Attorney

Legal proceedings can be complex and overwhelming. Consulting a criminal defense attorney can offer several advantages, including:

  • Understanding of the legal system: Attorneys are well-versed in the legal system and can guide you through the process.
  • Investigative resources: Criminal defense attorneys often have access to resources and experts that can aid in building your defense.
  • Negotiation skills: Experienced attorneys can negotiate with prosecutors to potentially reduce charges or sentences.
  • Protection of your rights: A defense attorney can work to protect your rights throughout the legal process.

Remember, the actions you take when faced with false information charges can significantly impact your future. Consulting with a criminal defense attorney can provide the guidance and support you need during this challenging time.

Seek legal advice from the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC. We are standing by to help you.


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