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Penal Code 118.1 PC – Police Officers Filing False Reports

By Spodek Law Group | July 8, 2021

Spodek Law Group: Understanding the Implications of Filing a False Police Report

Under California Penal Code 118.1 PC, peace officers are prohibited from making deliberately false statements in arrest records. Any false statement made regarding material matters in the report, whether certified or not, is a felony offense that could result in imprisonment in the county jail or state prison. This article delves deeper into the legal aspects of PC 118.1, with Spodek Law Group’s experienced criminal defense attorneys presenting an overview of the following:

When is filing a false report a crime?
What legal defenses can be presented to challenge a PC 118.1 charge?
What are the penalties for this crime?
Can an officer have a 118.1 PC conviction expunged?
Does a conviction affect a police officer’s gun rights?
What can a person do if they are a victim of a false police report?
What other laws are related to 118.1 PC?
What Circumstances Constitute Filing a False Report?

PC 118.1 only applies to reports that a police officer files while on duty and submitted to their agency regarding criminal cases. The statement in question must be “material,” which means it must be significant and not minor or inconsequential. An officer is only guilty of the offense if they knowingly and intentionally included incorrect information.

Legal Defenses to Challenge a PC 118.1 Charge

An officer can present a legal defense if they can establish that they made an accidental mistake in submitting false information. Additionally, if the false information is related to a trivial matter, it is considered a defense. Furthermore, if the information is supplied by a witness or third party, the officer is not guilty of the crime.

Penalties for Filing a False Report

The PC 118.1 offense is considered a wobbler offense, which means it could be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. As a misdemeanor, the offender could face up to a year in county jail or misdemeanor probation. As a felony, the offense carries a maximum sentence of three years in state prison or formal probation.

Expunging a 118.1 PC Conviction

An officer with a PC 118.1 conviction can have their record expunged if they have completed their probation or served their jail sentence. However, if the officer violated their probation term, the judge may decide against expungement.

Effects of a PC 118.1 Conviction on Gun Rights

A PC 118.1 conviction could result in the loss of a police officer’s right to bear arms. Felons are prohibited from owning firearms in California.

Options for Victims of False Police Reports

If a person is a victim of a false police report, they can file a complaint with the officer’s department, run a Pitchess motion, sue the police department or file a Section 1983 lawsuit against the officer, department, and city.

Laws Related to PC 118.1

The laws related to PC 118.1 are the perjury law, malicious prosecution statute, and false report of a crime statute.

Spodek Law Group, with clientele in various parts of California, including Los Angeles, Orange County, Santa Monica, Santa Clarita, Burbank, and Palmdale, can provide expert legal representation to help you navigate the legal implications of PC 118.1.

A false police report can be devastating for the victim, resulting in wrongful imprisonment or other legal consequences. At the same time, it can also be detrimental to the officer who knowingly files such a report, with implications that can negatively impact their career, livelihood, and personal life. The experienced criminal defense attorneys of Spodek Law Group understand the gravity of the situation and can provide the necessary legal support and guidance to help officers and victims alike navigate the legal consequences of filing or being a victim of a false police report.

In this article, we delve deeper into the legal implications of filing a false police report under California Penal Code 118.1 PC. We examine what constitutes filing a false report, the potential legal defenses available to challenge a PC 118.1 charge, the penalties for the offense, and the impact of a conviction on an officer’s gun rights. We also explore what victims of false police reports can do and the laws related to PC 118.1.

What Circumstances Constitute Filing a False Report?

Under California Penal Code 118.1 PC, peace officers are prohibited from making deliberately false statements in arrest records. A false statement made regarding material matters in the report, whether certified or not, is a felony offense that could result in imprisonment in the county jail or state prison. This statute only applies to reports that a police officer files while on duty and submitted to their agency regarding criminal cases. The statement in question must be “material,” which means it must be significant and not minor or inconsequential. An officer is only guilty of the offense if they knowingly and intentionally included incorrect information.

To understand what constitutes a false police report, it’s important to examine the key terms that are relevant in this context. The term “official capacity” refers to reports that an officer files while on duty as a cop. It does not apply to any reports they produce in their individual capacity. Furthermore, it only applies to reports that they submit to the agency for which they work. For instance, a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department is unlikely to be charged with a crime if they include incorrect information in a report they produce in their individual capacity, such as one written in their own name. However, if they submit a report to the LAPD that contains false information about a material matter, they could be charged under PC 118.1.

The term “criminal matter” is also relevant in this context, as this section of the statute only applies to criminal cases. Police personnel frequently submit reports in conjunction with solely civil or administrative concerns such as traffic accidents, fires, or earthquakes. This legislation does not apply if an officer is not reporting on a specific offense. Similarly, the term “material matter” is also significant, as the false statement must be “material” in order to be found guilty under PC 118.1. This implies that it must be related to something significant or significant, as opposed to a matter that is minor or inconsequential.

The term “knowingly” is perhaps the most important of all, as it pertains to the officer’s intent when they include false information in the report. Only if an officer deliberately inputs incorrect information are they culpable under this legislation. According to California criminal law, a person acts intentionally if they are aware of facts that place their activities within the scope of this part of the code. It’s worth noting that police reports are frequently written hours, if not days, after seeing or investigating a crime, and memory deteriorates over time. As such, it is not illegal to make honest mistakes in reporting.

What Legal Defenses Can Be Presented to Challenge a PC 118.1 Charge?

Under this statute, a defendant can present a legal defense to oppose an accusation of filing a false report. The “mistake” defense can be used if the accused can establish that they submitted inaccurate information in a police report by accident rather than on purpose. The “falsity relates to an immaterial matter” defense can be used if the false information was not on anything material to the case. The “false information by third party” defense can be used if a police officer submits a crime report and includes false information provided by a witness or other third party.

If a defendant can prove that any of these defenses apply, the prosecution may not be able to obtain a conviction.

What Penalties Can Be Imposed for Filing a False Report?

A violation of PC 118.1 is considered a “wobbler” offense, which means it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The crime is penalized as a misdemeanor by up to one year in county jail or misdemeanor (or summary) probation. As a felony, the offense is punishable by up to three years in state jail or felony (or formal) probation. A conviction can result in additional penalties, such as fines, community service, or restitution to the victim.

Can an Officer Get a PC 118.1 Conviction Expunged?

If an officer is convicted of this felony, they can apply for expungement after successfully completing probation or serving a jail sentence. Even if a party violates a probation term, the offense may still be wiped, although this would be at the judge’s discretion. An expungement, according to Penal Code 1203.4, relieves a person of almost “all penalties and disadvantages” resulting from a conviction.

Does a Conviction Affect an Officer’s Gun Rights?

A conviction under PC 118.1 could jeopardize an officer’s right to bear arms, as convicted felons are forbidden from obtaining or having a firearm in California under state law. This means that if a police officer breaks the law and is charged with a felony, they will lose their ability to own and possess a firearm.

What Can a Person Do If They Are the Victim of a False Police Report?

If a person has been the victim of a fake police complaint, they have several options, including cross-examining the officer during a criminal trial, filing a complaint with the officer’s department, running a Pitchess motion to access the officer’s personnel file, or filing a lawsuit against the officer, their department, and the city. Spodek Law Group has experienced attorneys who can help guide victims through this process and provide the necessary legal representation to protect their rights.

What Laws Are Related to PC 118.1?

Three laws are related to PC 118.1: Penal Code 118, which is the law against perjury, the malicious prosecution statute, and PC 148.5, which is the false report of a crime statute. These laws are all intended to prevent false statements and reports and to protect the integrity of the legal system.


Filing a false police report can have serious legal and personal consequences for both the officer and the victim. Spodek Law Group’s experienced attorneys can help officers and victims navigate the complexities of PC 118.1 and related laws to ensure the best possible outcome for their case. Whether an officer needs legal representation for a PC 118.1 charge or a victim needs assistance with a related legal matter, Spodek Law Group is here to help. Contact us today to learn more.

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