Ryan Lochte and You: What It Means to File a False Police Report
If you watched the Olympics, you enjoyed the beauty, the artistry, and the majesty of all of the different events. You probably also enjoyed (and maybe cringed?) at the entertainment value of the ridiculous, avoidable, and expensive “mistakes” that Ryan Lochte made.
If you have not yet heard the Ryan Lochte story at this year’s Rio Olympics, then you must have been avoiding news during that entire two-week span. The story was everywhere. It started with Ryan’s mom going public with the news that Lochte and three other swimmers had been robbed at gunpoint. It continued with Lochte giving an interview to NBC after he returned to the United States and providing more details on how the robbery occurred.
Then, the truth started coming out. He probably was not robbed at gunpoint; a Rio security guard approached him while he and his friends were allegedly committing some acts of vandalism at a gas station. In the end, he revealed in an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer that he had exaggerated the story; he also apologized, taking full responsibility for everything that went wrong.
The story did not end there. In fact, the stories are not stopping any time soon. A number of outlets, including USA TODAY, are starting to report that maybe Lochte didn’t exaggerate as much as he admitted. More is sure to come.
Falsely Reporting a Crime:
Regardless, lost in the questions about what he did or did not do, Lochte was charged with a crime by Brazilian authorities this past Friday – falsely reporting a crime. Lochte may be summoned back to Rio to stand for the charge, although he will be allowed to send a lawyer in his place.
CNN says that “if convicted, Lochte, 32, could face between one to six months in jail, although the judge could choose to levy a fine instead.” The consequences are up to a judge, without any kind of negotiations, but an appeal process is in place if Lochte is not satisfied with the outcome.
Similar Law in Virginia:
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, there is a law against “falsely summoning or giving false reports to law-enforcement officials.” It expressly forbids two things:
- To knowingly give a false report as to the commission of any crime to any law-enforcement official with intent to mislead, or
- Without just cause and with intent to interfere with the operations of any law-enforcement official, to call or summon any law-enforcement official by telephone or other means, including engagement or activation of an automatic emergency alarm.
It would be irresponsible to lay blame on Lochte, the other swimmers, or the Rio police in this post without knowing all of the evidence in this situation. From the news reports, however, it appears that the Commonwealth’s version of Lochte’s Rio charge is in the first prong. If Lochte filed a false police report in the Commonwealth of Virginia, he may have been charged under the statute.
If you, or anyone you know in Virginia, gives a false report to a law-enforcement officer with the intent to mislead, you may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. As mentioned in previous posts, the maximum punishment for a Class 1 misdemeanor is 12 months in jail and a fine of $2,500. Not telling the truth, in some situations, to a police officer is a dangerous thing to do.
That is why you should never talk to the police without a lawyer present. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and can guide you through most situations. If this is you, call or e-mail today for a free consultation!
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