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Is it illegal to lie to the police?

On Behalf of | Feb 11, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

When you’re approached by a police officer, you may feel apprehensive that they’re just going to dig around for anything they can think of to arrest you. To avoid this, you may consider simply lying to them when they ask you questions. But are you going to cause more trouble than it’s worth?

As a rule of thumb, consider it illegal to lie to the police. There are many ways in which this could happen. For instance, if an officer comes to your house and asks if you’ve seen your roommate because they’re trying to make an arrest, and then you claim you haven’t seen them when you actually know where they are, that may be illegal. If an officer asks you if you’ve been drinking during a DWI stop and you claim you haven’t had anything to drink, that may also be illegal.

This is all based on the part of the law that states that it is illegal for anyone to “knowingly make a false statement that is material to a criminal investigation.”

What if you accidentally don’t tell the truth?

One of the key words above is “knowingly,” which shows that you have to have the intent to lie. In the above example, maybe you just forgot that you had actually seen your roommate. If you made a mistake and told the officer you had no idea where they were, the police can’t charge you with anything unless they can prove that you did it intentionally. If you just forgot or accidentally said the wrong thing under pressure, that’s different.

However, no matter where you are in this process, it’s absolutely crucial that you know about all of your legal rights.