Effective July 20, 2012, the Michigan legislature enacted a new statute that may have gone either unnoticed or under the radar of the general public.
MCL 750.479c states that a person who is “informed” by a police officer that he or she is conducting a criminal investigation shall not do the following:
- knowingly and willfully conceal from the peace officer any material fact relating to the criminal investigation
- make any statement to the peace officer that the person knows is false or misleading
- provide a writing or document that is misleading or false
Let’s stop right there for a moment…does that mean the police officer has to use those exact words, “Maam, we have to inform you that we are investigating (fill in the blank crime) which carries with it a maximum penalty of…?
That fact actually makes a difference believe it or not. If you, knowingly or willfully, conceal from the police any material fact relating to the aforementioned criminal offense, you could go to jail for a long time.
- A misdemeanor concealement = A misdemeanor crime if you conceal
- A misdemeanor greater then one year but less than four years = misdemeanor up to one year in jail
- If it is a felony greater then four years = Four Year Felony!!
Don’t we see billboards begging people to give tips on crimes and to cooperate with the police? Now we are making it a very serious crime if you make ANY misleading statement to an officer who is involved in a criminal investigation.
The best part of the statute? If you are a victim in a crime you are exempt from the statute and can lie all you want to the police under this statute. A lying victim could be charged with the criminal offense of “filing a false police report” but that very rarely is done by Prosecutors. They simply dismiss the charges that were issued against the “defendant”, or in my view the victim of the false accusation.
Anyone who has gone to law school and is willing to incur the anger of the police can exercise their 5th Amendment rights to remain silent…like that is going to happen! This statute affirms your ability to decline to speak or otherwise comment to a police officer, but we all know how upset this makes the officer, who will continue to try and get you to speak with them if they want you to talk.
What does this all mean? Even more ammunition for lawyers to advise everyone to NOT speak to the police about anything.