VA Senate passes legislation to make knowingly reporting false crimes illegal

Making hoax illegal
Making hoax illegal
Updated: Jan. 18, 2019 at 11:56 PM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Pranksters beware, reporting or acting out false crimes could cost you thousands of dollars and up to a year in jail time. That’s if some lawmakers in the general assembly have their way.

It all stems from a fake abduction last year at a Chesterfield Walmart that not only terrified a community, but also tied up law enforcement resources.

“When something like a hoax crime happens and you push that out on social media and so many people are following it, that video gets sent out immediately to the country literally, so those cases have to be dealt with immediately,” said Kevin Carroll with the Fraternal Order of Police.

In an effort to generate a social media buzz, Carroll said the individuals who fabricated the hoax put the public’s safety at risk.

“It puts you in danger it puts the person doing it in danger and it puts other people in danger. If someone misinterpreted what they were doing and took some type of action to stop them it could have actually had dire consequences from that,” said Carroll.

No one was charged in the incident because technically they never broke any laws, but Carroll says that’s very close to changing.

A bill pitched by State Senator Amanda Chase, and passed in the Virginia Senate Monday, would make knowingly reporting a false crime to mislead police illegal.

“We actually talked with Senator Chase and asked her to carry the legislation and we worked with others to draft the legislation,” said Carroll.

The bill still needs passes the house of delegates to officially be on books, but if it does become a law, anyone who violates it could be slapped with a 2,500 dollar fine and face up to a year of jail time.

“We want to make sure the public knows that this is not something that we need to be doing… it is a waste of vital resources for the community to try to take police officers, state troopers, sheriffs off of what they’re doing to go and respond to these calls for service.”

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