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False Reporting

The crime of False Reporting in Washington State is fairly similar to Obstructing or Obstruction of Justice. It is a gross misdemeanor, which means that if one is convicted of this crime, the person may be punished by a maximum of a year in jail (365 days) and a five thousand dollar ($5000) fine.
RCW 9A.84.040 states a person is guilty of false reporting if he or she, with knowledge of its falsity:
"initiates or circulates a false report or warning of an alleged occurrence or impending occurrence of a fire, explosion, crime, catastrophe, or emergency knowing that such false report is likely to cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or transportation facility, or to cause public inconvenience or alarm."
This means that to be guilty, the person must know that the report is wrong. Simply being wrong is insufficient.
Cities in Washington that have enacted their own municipal codes, often punish other behavior under the heading of "false reporting."
For example, the City of Seattle has SMC 12A.16.040, which provides
"A person is guilty of false reporting if he or she:
  • A.  Initiates or circulates a written or oral report or warning of an alleged or impending occurrence of a fire, explosion, crime, catastrophe, or emergency knowing that such report contains false information and knowing that such report is likely to cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or transportation facility, or to cause substantial public inconvenience or alarm; or
  • B. Makes, files or causes to be filed with a public officer of the City a written report, statement, application, citation or complaint which he knows to contain a misstatement of a material fact; or
  • C. Makes a verbal statement relating to a crime, catastrophe, or emergency to a Seattle Police officer or a Seattle Police Department 911 emergency operator, knowing that such statement contains a misstatement of a material fact; or
  • D. Gives false written or oral identification to a Seattle Police officer when such officer is investigating a crime or possible crime, executing a search or arrest warrant, issuing a citation or notice of infraction or making an arrest, knowing that such identification is false."
Bellingham has adopted the RCW into its municipal code, as have Lynnwood and Marysville, among others, while Everett’s EMC 10.12.160 has the crime of “Initiating false report."
We have the experience, knowledge and tenacity needed to successfully represent a false reporting charge. Call Ashbach Law Offices, LLC for a free, no pressure consultation about your particular situation.
Ashbach Law Offices, LLC represents clients charged with criminal offenses in Northwest Washington Courts, including King County, Skagit County, Snohomish County and Whatcom County, as well as other counties on a case-by-case basis. These counties include courts in and for the following cities: Anacortes, Arlington, Auburn, Bellevue, Blaine, Bothell, Burlington, Edmonds, Everett, Issaquah, Kirkland, Lake Stevens, Lynden, Lynnwood, Marysville, Mill Creek, Mukilteo, Monroe, Mountlake Terrace, Monroe, Redmond, Sea-Tac, Seattle, Sedro Woolley, Shoreline, Snohomish, and Tukwila, Washington.
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