When a police officer files a report regarding an alleged crime, prosecutors
often use it as evidence to try and convict a suspect in court. The accuracy
of the allegations in police reports is rarely questioned, which makes
people feel that challenging the officer’s statement is practically
However, California law has a procedure in place to contest police reports.
The existence of such a procedure to challenge police reports shows that
law enforcement is not always right. Since false police reports can result
in innocent people going to jail or prison, it is imperative to know when
and how to challenge them.
The following are several approaches to contesting the accuracy of a police report:
Challenge the police report during the investigation stage or cross-examination at trial. An experienced
criminal defense lawyer can determine whether or not a police officer filed a false report
during an investigation—with or without the help of a private investigator.
If evidence of a report’s false claims is uncovered, this information
can be used to convince the prosecutor to drop the case. During trial,
an attorney can effectively question the arresting officer to elicit testimony
which contradicts with what is recorded in the police report, throwing
into doubt the prosecutor’s case.
File a complaint. Your lawyer can file a complaint on your behalf against the police officer
with the police department. If the department sees enough evidence take
the complaint seriously, it can be used as leverage to convince the prosecutor
to drop the case or reduce the charges.
Request to see the arresting officer’s personnel records. According to California law, defendants are allowed to petition for access
to a police officer’s personnel records in order to see if other
people reported similar misconduct regarding filing false reports. This
information can be used by your defense attorney to establish a pattern
of providing false information by a certain officer, and to gather a list
of potential witnesses to call at trial to testify about the past misconduct.
For more information,
contact The Law Offices of Jarrod M. Wilfert and schedule a
free case evaluation with our Ventura criminal defense lawyer today.