18-8-111. False reporting to authorities - false reporting of emergency - definition
(1) (a) A person commits false reporting to authorities if:
(I) He or she knowingly:
(A) Causes by any means, including but not limited to activation, a false alarm of fire or other emergency or a false emergency exit alarm to sound or to be transmitted to or within an official or volunteer fire department, ambulance service, law enforcement agency, or any other government agency which deals with emergencies involving danger to life or property; or
(B) Prevents by any means, including but not limited to deactivation, a legitimate fire alarm, emergency exit alarm, or other emergency alarm from sounding or from being transmitted to or within an official or volunteer fire department, ambulance service, law enforcement agency, or any other government agency that deals with emergencies involving danger to life or property; or
(II) He or she makes a report or knowingly causes the transmission of a report to law enforcement authorities of a crime or other incident within their official concern when he or she knows that it did not occur; or
(III) He or she makes a report or knowingly causes the transmission of a report to law enforcement authorities pretending to furnish information relating to an offense or other incident within their official concern when he or she knows that he or she has no such information or knows that the information is false; or
(IV) He or she knowingly provides false identifying information to law enforcement authorities.
(b) False reporting to authorities is a class 3 misdemeanor; except that, if it is committed in violation of subsection (1)(a)(I) of this section and committed during the commission of another criminal offense, it is a class 2 misdemeanor.
(c) For purposes of this section, identifying information means a persons name, address, birth date, social security number, or drivers license or Colorado identification number.
(2) (a) A person commits false reporting of an emergency if he or she knowingly commits an act in violation of subsection (1) of this section that includes a knowing false report of an imminent threat to the safety of a person or persons by use of a deadly weapon.
(b) (I) Except as otherwise provided in this subsection (2)(b), false reporting of an emergency is a class 1 misdemeanor.
(II) False reporting of an emergency is a class 1 misdemeanor and is an extraordinary risk crime that is subject to the modified sentencing range specified in section 18-1.3-501 (3), if:
(A) The threat causes the occupants of a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transportation to be evacuated or otherwise displaced; or
(B) The emergency response results in bodily injury of another person.
(III) False reporting of an emergency is a class 4 felony if the emergency response results in serious bodily injury of another person.
(IV) False reporting of an emergency is a class 3 felony if the emergency response results in the death of another person.
(c) Upon a conviction pursuant to this subsection (2), in addition to any other sentence imposed or restitution ordered, the court shall sentence the defendant to pay restitution in an amount equal to the cost of any emergency response or evacuation, including but not limited to fire and police response, emergency medical service or emergency preparedness response, and transportation of any individual from the building, place of assembly, or facility of public transportation.
(d) It is not a defense to a prosecution pursuant to this subsection (2) that the defendant or another person did not have the intent or capability of committing the threatened or reported act.
(3) For purposes of subsections (1) and (2) of this section, the offense is committed and the defendant may be tried in the county where the defendant made the report, the county where the false report was communicated to law enforcement, or the county where law enforcement responded to the false report.
(4) A violation of this section does not preclude a conviction for a violation of any other criminal offense.
Source: L. 71: R&RE, p. 456, 1. C.R.S. 1963: 40-8-111. L. 77: (1)(b) and (1)(c) amended, p. 965, 39, effective July 1. L. 86: (2) amended, p. 771, 9, effective July 1. L. 96: (1)(c) amended and (1)(d) and (3) added, pp. 1840, 1841, 2, 3, effective July 1. L. 97: (3) amended, p. 1541, 6, effective July 1. L. 2012: (1)(a) and (2) amended, (HB 12-1304), ch. 237, p. 1049, 2, effective May 29. L. 2018: Entire section amended, (SB 18-068), ch. 401, p. 2370, 1, effective July 1.
Cross references: For the legislative declaration in the 2012 act amending subsections (1)(a) and (2), see section 1 of chapter 237, Session Laws of Colorado 2012.
Defendant was not entitled to jury instruction that offense of false reporting to authorities was a lesser included offense of criminal impersonation because false reporting has the additional element of making or transmission of a report to law enforcement authorities. People v. Vasallo-Hernandez, 939 P.2d 440 (Colo. App. 1995).
Nor did evidence support jury instruction on offense of false reporting to authorities as a lesser non-included offense of criminal impersonation absent the initiation of affirmative action intended to communicate information. People v. Vasallo-Hernandez, 939 P.2d 440 (Colo. App. 1995).
Any error in refusing to give a false reporting instruction was harmless because it did not prohibit defendant from presenting his theory of defense. Trial court properly refused to give a false reporting instruction because there was no evidentiary basis upon which the jury could both rationally acquit on the greater charges but convict on the false reporting charge. Further, the failure to instruct on false reporting did not prevent defendant from presenting his theory that a passenger was driving the car at the time of the accident. One passenger testified that the other passenger, not defendant, was driving the car at the time of the accident. And defense counsel so argued in closing argument. Thus, any error in refusing to give the false reporting instruction was harmless because it did not prohibit defendant from presenting his theory of defense. People v. Medrano-Bustamante, 2013 COA 139, 412 P.3d 581, affd in part and revd in part on other grounds sub nom. Reyna-Abarca v. People, 2017 CO 15, 390 P.3d 816.
This section is distinguishable from 18-8-105. A deliberate attempt to thwart law enforcement is more destructive than conduct not designed to do so. As a result, the greater punishment for the offense of accessory to a crime is justified. People v. Preciado-Flores, 66 P.3d 155 (Colo. App. 2002).
False reporting to authorities is not a specific instance of attempt to influence a public servant. The crime of false reporting penalizes those who provide untruthful information to public officials, regardless of an attempt to influence public officials. The attempted influence offense can occur without any false reporting at all. Thus, the attempted influence charge and the false reporting charge do not differ solely by prohibiting general and specific conduct. People v. Blue, 253 P.3d 1273 (Colo. App. 2011).
A person reporting child abuse does not commit false reporting to authorities if he or she reports child abuse that cannot be proven because allegations of child abuse are a matter of public concern. Lawson v. Stow, 2014 COA 26, 327 P.3d 340.