Is lying to lawmen illegal?

September 13, 2012

By DANIEL BLACKBURN
Can a conversation with law enforcement be hazardous to your freedom? It all depends on an interpretation of your honesty.

Police officials in Atascadero said field officers have been arresting people for lying to them. The admission by Sgt. Gregg Meyer, the department’s public information officer, was contained in a Aug. 30 CalCoastNews article about police searches of people’s belongings in the city’s Sunken Gardens park area.

“We have arrested adults for lying,” Meyer said responding to inquiries about the department’s policies regarding warrant-less searches of backpacks and other belongings of people in the park.

That comment caused Atascadero resident David Broadwater to ask department officials for details about their actions in situations involving alleged lying, and to question the legality of such arrests.

Federal law prohibits lying to U.S. agents, but no such blanket law exists in California penal codes.

“Please inform me as to whether this quote is accurate, that it came from you, and that it’s true that such arrests have occurred,” Broadwater wrote in an Aug. 31 email to police. “Please inform me as to what law or laws were violated or allegedly violated by people lying. Please inform me as to what constituted the lies, i.e., what statements were made that were considered lies.”

After two such requests, Broadwater’s questions were answered in an email from Atascadero Chief of Police Jerel Haley.

“As you know, the written word can occasionally be misconstrued without clarification, and I applaud your efforts to clarify language used in the article… I believe I can adequately articulate what sections of criminal law (Sgt. Meyer)  was referring to when answering the questions posed to him,” Haley said. “If you are specifically asking for a section of California law that makes lying in general illegal, then I know of no such section.”

Haley did, however, cite law sections “that specifically address times when it is illegal for someone to provide false information to a peace officer,” and said the “most commonly applied” is 148.9 of the California Penal Code.

“Any person who falsely represents or identifies himself  or herself as another person or as a fictitious person to any peace officer listed in Section 830.1 or 830.2, or… upon a lawful detention or arrest of the person, either to evade the process of the court, or to evade the proper identification of the person by the investigating officer is guilty of a misdemeanor,” the penal code says.

Other laws deal with use of false names and dates of birth, or concealment of material facts to the DMV or California Highway Patrol officials.

“These and other similar issues are the types of crime to which Sgt. Meyer was referring when he alluded to the fact that our department makes arrests of people for lying,” the chief said.

Broadwater called the  chief’s response “theoretical and hypothetical.” And that Haley failed to respond to his request for a list of the actual alleged lies the officers had used in order to make those arrests.

“I asked for specifics about the actual practices of the APD, not for some brief tutorial about law enforcement potentialities,” Broadwater wrote to Haley. “Recitation of your personal professional history, including arresting people for misidentifying themselves, is irrelevant in the context of this inquiry.”


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obispan

My brother and his wife were back home visiting my parent’s about 15 years ago, went for a late night walk through Mitchell Park, and were surprised to be approached by a police officer. They thought he was looking into something and wanted to know if they’d seen anything. After being told the park was now closed at night due to problems the officer told them to continue and enjoy their walk through the park and have a wonderful evening. Bums riding the rails used to sleep in the park at night and it was not a problem. Anything that’s a problem is a problem. Sounds like there is a problem and A-town doesn’t want to give up their downtown park. The SLO City Council is dealing with the Broadwater/Jenkins/Rizzo hold society/quality-of-life hostage to our demands-thinking next Tuesday night by closing loopholes. A-Town might be well-advised to get out in front by making Sunken Garden subject to a slew of rules to clarify where they stand. Broadwater/Jenkins/Rizzo feel that you should not be, in any way, allowed to enjoy anything better than, or isolate yourself from, that their aggrieved clients.


monkscrew

The courts have ruled that LEOs can lie to the public. Therefore it seems a simple case of quid pro quo.


choprzrul

Lying is legal as long as you follow the rules:


1. If the office is NOT investigating a crime,

2. if you are NOT under arrest,

3. if the office does NOT have reasonable or articulable suspicion that you committed a crime,

4. and you DON’T give a false name.


In other words, if you are just walking down the sidewalk and an officer demands information, establish that they are not investigating a crime, you are not under arrest, and you don’t tell them that you are someone else; then lie away.


After all, if it is legal for the police to lie to you, how can they complain if we lie to them?


Mr. Holly

I’m sure that CCN beleives that lying is acceptable as we are exposed to it on a regular basis on this website. Reference the article regarding Dick Mason.


kettle

Be specific, otherwise you are just a anonymous crap thrower hiding behind a fake moniker.


stopagenda21

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”


dogeatdog

How about when you have the chief of police lie to you, what can you then expect of the officers under him. That is what we have in AG. I have had the chief lie to my face twice and both times I went to talk to him, it had nothing to do with an illegal arrest or anything.


I have had one of the commander threaten me, and another commander would not enforce a code enforcement issue.


I only trust one officer on the AG PD, and that is sad since my brother is a retired LEO. In fact he was the one who told me to go meet with the chief about my issue. Once the chief lied he told me to just start documenting everything in every manner I could.


I think the female officers who are suing the chief and one of the commanders are telling the truth. Mostly because it seems if they will lie to the general public, they themselves are not trustworthy.


The Gimlet Eye

Maybe when the get the “facial recognition” sw online, they’ll get what they want out of you no matter what you say or do:


US: The FBI announces a $1 billion facial recognition database to track every American by 2014. [To fight terrorism and crime, of course.]

RT 2012 Sep 8


http://rt.com/usa/news/fbi-recognition-system-ngi-640/


winedude

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There are some law enforcement officials that are dedicated to “protect and serve” the citizenry where they work (and hopefully live.) However, way too many cops are refugees from the military and have their own agenda. In this case, pigs is pigs…OINK!


mkaney

Some police officers respect the law they enforce, while some of them make it up as they go along and use it as a tool to enforce their own brand of justice. If they are wrong, lying themselves, or even if their actions are illegal don’t matter because they have no liability for their actions, it just becomes another case thrown out of court… probably after the person has already incurred many expenses and/or lost their job.


Robert1

My policy is to lawyer up, no matter what, you get different levels of law enforcement in this county depending on who is standing in front of you with a badge on and what capacity you are a citizen are.

When I was in a very public profile I was treated different then when I was private citizen Joe Blow. I had a 30 year retired detective tell me he would lawyer up to now a days with the quality of officers serving.


NorthCountyDude

This is so true. Some police officers create their own justice and disgusts me to no end on how cops in this area profile on race too. If a cop every profiles my girlfriend for her race I will personally throw a hellmary and go to the department and courts.


Unfortunately, not everyone can afford an attorney. But eventually I think I will.


And also, if you are involved in government at all, then the law enforcement agency treats you a bit differently. For instance, people who work for the city have one boss in the end.


racket

Is Broadwater an attorney represented the arrested? If not, then why would APD provide him with case-specific evidence? Seems like that would violate the privacy of the accused.


Kevin Rice

Generally, cases under investigation are private. Everything else is public, especially disposed cases. You can access the same information.