A person commits the crime of false reporting when the person initiates or circulates a false report knowing it is likely to cause evacuation of a building or assembly, public inconvenience or alarm, or an emergency response. A person may be charged with first, second, or third degree false reporting depending on the degree of recklessness and harm caused. False reporting in the third degree is a gross misdemeanor. Emergency response includes any action to protect life, health, or property by a peace officer or law enforcement officer.
An individual who is a victim of a crime of false reporting may bring a civil action against the person who committed the offense or anyone who participated in the offense and may recover damages, including reasonable attorney fees.
A person may bring a civil action for damages against any person who knowingly causes a law enforcement officer to arrive at a location to contact another person with the intent to:
A prevailing plaintiff may recover the greater of economic and noneconomic damages; or $250 against each defendant found liable. The court may also award punitive damages and reasonable costs and attorneys' fees.
A civil action may be maintained in a court of limited jurisdiction if the total damages claimed do not exceed the statutory limit for damages that the court of limited jurisdiction may award.
PRO: There are numerous instances where law enforcement is called to respond where the call is fueled by bias and discrimination. This bill will help direct law enforcement resources back to public safety without resorting to criminal law.
The situations addressed by this bill are more egregious than simply a false report that provokes an imminent response. This bill is designed to address circumstances where law enforcement is weaponized as a tool of discrimination and bias. Systemic racial targeting and the weaponizing of law enforcement against people of color are not new and capitalizes on their justifiable fear of law enforcement. Minorities are targeted in ways that can irrevocably change the course of their lives or even end their life. This bill will empower these communities with remedies to protect themselves.