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Alabama to increase penalties for falsely reporting a crime

On Wednesday, the Legislature passed a bill to increase the punishment for persons convicted a falsifying a report of a crime. The law’s goal is to deter people from making false reports to law enforcement.

The bill was sponsored by State Rep. Mike Shaw (R-Hoover). It was carried in the Senate by State Sen. April Weaver (R-Briarfield).

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall released a statement applauding state lawmakers. The bill was inspired by an incident in Hoover where a woman tied up hundreds of law enforcement man hours after she falsely reported having been abducted.

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“Last summer, Alabama’s law enforcement around the state were exploited, and local communities terrorized, when an individual falsely reported being kidnapped. After an immediate multiagency response, the frightened public was outraged to learn that the entire situation was a hoax. This action cost taxpayers millions of dollars and took away critical resources from those who desperately needed law enforcement support,” said Attorney General Marshall.

“The goal of this legislation is to create a deterrent for those who blatantly lie in reporting a crime, so that those who do, experience the full force of the law. I applaud the Legislature for listening and working with law enforcement on this issue and hope to refocus our attention on those who are victims of crime in the short-term and long-term.”

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Currently, false reporting of a crime is a Class A misdemeanor. HB 82 increases the penalties for false reporting of a crime that poses imminent danger to a person or to the public by making it a Class C felony. The bill also expands the ability of the state to seek restitution to local, state, and federal authorities for the costs incurred while investigating false reports.

HB82 was passed unanimously in the Alabama Senate. It had previously passed House of Representatives in February – also unanimously. The bill now goes to the Governor for her consideration and signature.

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