Third Degree Falsely Reporting an Incident: NY Penal Law 240.50

Yes, a police officer with NYPD or other police department in New York can arrest you for being a liar with additional nefarious conduct on your part. Probable cause for your arrest may require the police satisfying more elements than your mere misrepresentations, but the basic theme behind Third Degree Falsely Reporting an Incident, New York Penal Law 240.50, is that you made a serious misrepresentation. At a minimum, a conviction for violating Third Degree Falsely Reporting an Incident is a class “A” misdemeanor, but because there are higher degree crimes that are similar in nature, know you can be charged with a more serious felony before or after you see a judge. If that doesn’t provide an incentive to consult with a criminal defense lawyer, recognize that the felony degree of Second and First Degree Falsely Reporting an Incident can lead you directly to prison.

Notwithstanding the more serious felony crimes, you should have no misgivings as to the significance and severity of a PL 240.50 arrest. A crime of deceit and fraud that could horrifically hurt the person falsely accused or the larger community, this misdemeanor is punishable by as much as one year in jail. Whether or not you step foot on Rikers Island or in the Westchester County Jail, for example, is only a piece of a greater puzzle. If convicted, you will never escape answering to your criminal history and it will without doubt follow you no matter where you work, state you reside or career you pursue.

Third Degree Falsely Reporting an Incident: Understanding NY PL 240.50

You are guilty of Falsely Reporting an Incident in the Third Degree when, knowing the information reported, conveyed or circulated is false or baseless, you nonetheless report or circulate it. Additionally, you violate PL 240.50(1) if the false report or warning involves an alleged occurrence or impending crime, catastrophe or emergency under circumstance likely to cause public alarm and inconvenience.

Different that subsection one, prosecutors would charge you with PL 240.50(2) if you report through words or action to an official or quasi-official agency or organization having the function of dealing with emergencies involving danger to life or property, an alleged occurrence or impending occurrence of a catastrophe or emergency which did not in fact occur or does not in fact exist. This subsection does not mandate that the District Attorney prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your actions would likely cause public alarm.

If you gratuitously report to a law enforcement officer or agency, such as the NYPD, (a) the alleged occurrence of an offense or incident which did not in fact occur; or (b) an allegedly impending occurrence of an offense or incident which in fact is not about to occur; or (c) false information relating to an actual offense or incident or to the alleged implication of some person therein; prosecutors would likely charge you with PL 240.50(3).

Slightly different than the preceding three subsections of Falsely Reporting an Incident in the Third Degree, PL 240.50(3) makes it a crime in New York to report, again by words or actions, an alleged occurrence or condition of child abuse or maltreatment or abuse or neglect of a vulnerable person which did not in fact occur or exist to: (a) the statewide central register of child abuse and maltreatment or the vulnerable persons' central register. Alternatively, according to PL 240.50(3)(b), you violate this statute if you are required to report cases of suspected child abuse or maltreatment, or to report cases of suspected abuse or neglect of a vulnerable person, knowing that you are required to report such cases, and with the intent that such an alleged occurrence be reported to the statewide central register or vulnerable persons' central register you in fact do so.

Third Degree Falsely Reporting an Incident: Defenses to NY PL 240.50

Too many fact specific scenarios to identify every defense to a PL 240.50 arrest, or, for that matter, a strong and viable defense to Third Degree Falsely Reporting an Incident, some helpful themes are worth acknowledging. First, should the police confront you with making a false report, do not be afraid to exercise your right to counsel. Know that even an apology is an admission. Another means to attack these cases is how the police can confirm your report is not true? While probable cause is a low burden, the District Attorney must ultimately prove their case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. What evidence can they secure and present to convince a judge or jury of the same where you have not admitted to your misrepresentation? Taking this line a step further, even if it is clear the report was bogus, did you know so at the time you made it and as a result of your actions did or could your report cause public alarm? Again, too much to address on a webpage, arm yourself with knowledge on the law, exercise your right to remain silent and consult with a criminal defense lawyer who can best articulate your defense.

Foolish you may have been or misunderstood the District Attorney may be, but an accusation, arrest and prosecution for Third Degree Falsely Reporting an Incident is as frightening as it is career ravaging. Be neither timid nor naïve. Stand up for yourself and take control of your life. Put yourself in the best place to walk away with little or no blemishes from your encounter with the criminal justice system. Because there is no substitute for experience, knowledge and advocacy, let the New York criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors be the means to put your arrest firmly in your past.

Call us at 212.312.7129 or contact us online today to speak with our New York attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors.

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