As expected, law enforcement agencies take reports of kidnapping very seriously. In fact, such instances often garner the help of the public to share photos of the victim on social media in hopes of guaranteeing a safe return. The same fastidiousness, though, is placed on those who submit false claims of kidnappings and can result in heavy fines, penalties, and even jail time.
Alabama Kidnapping Hoax
Alabama authorities have filed criminal charges against a woman who confessed to fabricating a story that she was kidnapped after stopping along the highway to check on a toddler she said was walking alone. After the 25-year-old disappeared for two days and then mysteriously returned home, she told authorities an unknown assailant put her into a vehicle, holding her against her will. The nationwide story led countless local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to engage in a tireless hunt for the woman, which included private citizens dedicating time to looking for her and the alleged perpetrator.
Days after returning home, the woman turned herself in, explaining that her troubles were completely made-up. Although authorities cannot determine where the woman was when she was gone, they have established that she “acted alone.” The Hoover Police Department charged 25-year-old Carlee Russell with reporting to law enforcement and falsely reporting an incident. Given the gravity of the incident, police were “frustrated” that the law does not allow for more stringent charges as authorities seek to recover funds spent on the investigation.
What Happens When the Police Target You for False Reporting?
The Alabama Criminal Code details that one may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor—the highest sub-felony charge—for falsely reporting an incident and giving a false report to law enforcement. If convicted, Russell could face up to one year in jail or either offense and be forced to pay fines up to $6,000.
Nevertheless, further consequences could come from falsely reporting incidents to law enforcement personnel. For instance, the surrounding community may lose trust in you, erasing years' worth of relationship-building. Since information regarding the above incident was shared through social media, the implications go far beyond the boundaries of Hoover, Alabama. Jail time and the effects of financial stress imposed by authorities are somewhat short-lived, but false reporting can quickly undermine your reputation for the long haul.
How Can the Lento Law Firm Help?
Not all charges stemming from false reporting are so blatant. Sometimes, well-meaning people report instances that turn out to be false, but law enforcement will pursue any situation to recoup lost time and money. But you don't have to face the immense resources of local, state, and federal authorities alone.
Choosing the right attorney is half the battle toward clearing your name. The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team is driven by a genuine concern for clients, their well-being, and their future. When you have the court breathing down your neck to stand trial for any matter, the Lento Law Firm will provide you with experienced, professional representation. Contact us online or call 888-535-3686 now.