What do I do if I was sexually assaulted but gave false reports to protect the attacker? 36 Answers as of June 26, 2013

My friend was raped and out of fear she filed the rape with a false initial report saying she did not know him. Now she wants justice. Its been four months since the rape. She knows who he is but she fears filing false police report charges. She has evidence of rape from a doctor and pictures at the police department of severe bruising around her neck. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Austin Legal Services, PLC
Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
They could file charges against her, but if she comes clean and as to her reasons why, they probably will not. It is not uncommon for rape victims to initially withhold the name of their attacker for fear or retribution, shame, or other reasons. She needs to tell them soon so they can see if they can file charges.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 8/24/2011
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
She should contact an attorney of her choice for detailed advice as to how to approach the police and DA. If she merely said she did not know the attacker it is unlikely she will be charged with a false report. On the other hand the DA may well now believe the case cannot be prosecuted because of the change in her statement.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/23/2011
Law Offices of John J. Connors, Esq.
Law Offices of John J. Connors, Esq. | John J. Connors, Esq.
Your friend should seek the advice of a good criminal defense lawyer. It is a crime to file a false report. An attorney can work with the District Attorney to see that charges are brought against the perpetrator but not your friend. The District Attorney's office has victim witness advocates that can work with your friend. A competent attorney would be sure that your friend's rights are protected and help to keep charges from being filed against her.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 8/23/2011
Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
She should hire an attorney and give all details to him.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 8/19/2011
Law Offices of John Carney
Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
Your summary states that your friend was raped but that she lied to the police and filed a false report to protect her rapist. She told the police she did not know the man who allegedly raped her and this was to avoid prosecution. Now, months later she "wants revenge", and want to know if she will be charged with a crime for making a false report. She should retain an attorney and tell him every detail of the events in great detail, being totally honest and leaving nothing out. He can then advise her as to her options and the risks and benefits of each way to proceed. If you want my opinion, I think she needs counseling. She is not a good decision maker and it would be beneficial to get professional advice from counselors, psychologists, and attorneys when you have such problems. Without knowing what really happened I cannot tell her how to proceed, but going to the police and admitting that she filed a false report would not be advised.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 8/19/2011
    Anderson Walsh PLLC
    Anderson Walsh PLLC | STACI LYNN ANDERSON
    The victim's credibility will be compromised by the initial false statements. She may want to seek legal counsel before contacting law enforcement to amend her statement as she may have some exposure for a false statement. The path to justice may now be more difficult, but it sounds as though she can plausibly explain to a jury why she was afraid to identify her attacker.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 9/20/2012
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner | Roianne Houlton Conner
    She needs to contact law enforcement and tell them she was afraid. They will understand her shock and confusion and will help her.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/19/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    Your friend need to contact the DA office and explain what is going on. This will not be the first time they have seen this.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/19/2011
    Harden Law Offices
    Harden Law Offices | Leonard D. Harden
    I represent people accused of crime. Your friend will not likely be charged with a false report as the State tends to protect victims of sexual assault. The fact that she filled out an initial report does expose her to criminal liability for false report to police. It Is really hard to predict what the police and prosecutor will do and would largely depend on the individuals involved. The other aspect is that the first report may be used in court to discredit her version of events. If the prosecutor doesn't charge her with false report the accused rapist's attorney will absolutely use the prior statement to attack her credibility. Additionally, the pictures and other evidence may or may not be useful as time has a way of creating doubts about the authenticity of the event. In short, I really don't have any advice for your friend other than, if she wants justice, she can contact the police and ask for an investigation to be conducted, if may mean that she gets charged. If she is very concerned about being charged she may decide not to proceed. Good luck,
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 8/19/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    The fact that your friend has made a false report will likely result in her being charged with the criminal offense of filing a false report to a police officer. However, if she wants justice she should be willing to take responsibility for having made the false report and the consequences of having done so, and go to the police and tell them the truth.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/19/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    The answer to this question depends on what she told the police initially. It sounds like she did not identify her attacker and said she did not know who it was. This apparently was not true and she did know her attacker. Coming forward now with the name of the attacker probably would not result if a charge of filing a false police report. It seems that initially, out of fear, she did not identify the attacker but now realizes that justice needs to be done so he does not attack someone else.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/19/2011
    Frances R. Johnson
    Frances R. Johnson | Frances R. Johnson
    Your friend should contact an attorney where she lives to get accurate advice and counsel about how to proceed after that attorney knows all of the facts. This short excerpt is not enough to give any other kind of advice.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/19/2011
    Law Office of Neal L. Weinstein
    Law Office of Neal L. Weinstein | Neal L. Weinstein
    The police suspect you gave the wrong information because you were afraid, that is very common. You should go back and tell the investigating officer the truth, and that you were too afraid of retaliation to give the truth, but now want justice. They will probably understand and not charge you with anything.
    Answer Applies to: Maine
    Replied: 8/19/2011
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law | Jules Fiani
    Report it to the police.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/26/2013
    Michael Maltby, Attorney at Law
    Michael Maltby, Attorney at Law | Michael Maltby
    Have your friend contact the police. It is perfectly understandable why she would be hesitant to name her attacker out of fear and no prosecutor would charge her with filing a false police report given these facts.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/19/2011
    Watkins Law Office
    Watkins Law Office | Bob Watkins
    Her initial lie will impact on her credibility. The police may question whether they can believe her now and even if they do, question whether a prosecution has a chance of succeeding given the inconsistencies. Yet your friend should confront her accuser and try for her own healing process. Worse cases have been successful.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 8/18/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    Tell the truth to police and others from the beginning. Now, her credibility is damaged, but if she comes clean with police, they may not take action against her for the false report, and may try to prosecute the perpetrator. There are no guarantees. There are consequences to all our actions, intended or not.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/18/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    She should contact the sex crimes bureau of the county district attorney.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/18/2011
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    If she knows the attacker, contact the detective investigating and tell him/her. Do not fear false report, what she gave was an incomplete report. As for fear, contact a Women's Shelter or Rape Crisis Center, I am certain they have counselors much more adequately prepared to deal with your friend and her concerns. This site is more about information for the accused, what to expect, and how to find a lawyer, etc. I am not trying to push you or your friend away, I am jut trying to steer you to the more appropriate forum. That said, if your friend is concerned the police will think she gave a false report, what you describe is an incomplete report, there is a difference. A false report would be if she filed rape charges and named a guy she knows was not the attacker, or claimed an assault that did not happen. Merely saying "I don't know who he was." is not a false report.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 8/18/2011
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    She goes and tells the truth about who raped her, and deals with whatever consequences come.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/18/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    She could talk to the police and they may go ahead and prosecute the case or the prosecutor may decide that with the previous statements they do not have a chance of convicting the person. That is up to the prosecutor.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/18/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    She should return to the police and explain why she gave false information regarding the actor of this sex act. I must warn her that the police may be less inclined to press charges now, based on her false information given immediately after the crime was committed. This will definitely affect her credibility. I doubt that the police would file charges against her for filing a false police report, but there is a possibility that they may do so. I would advise her to retain private counsel to accompany her to the station when she reports this change in information to the police.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 8/18/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    She should contact the police dept which took the original report and make the necessary corrections. I do not know if her initial misinformation will create problems in prosecuting the case, but she should be honest about her reasons for the initial false report. It will be the decision of the prosecutor whether or not to proceed with a prosecution of the suspect.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 8/18/2011
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC | Martina A. Vigil
    She should call the police and amend her report. She is, however, running the risk of picking up charges for filing a false report.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/18/2011
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger | James A Schoenberger
    Contact law enforcement and come clean regarding the attacker. It is unlikely you would be charge with giving false information if you came forward.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/18/2011
    John Segelbaum, P.S.
    John Segelbaum, P.S. | John Segelbaum
    Your friend should contact an attorney and have the attorney contact the police on her behalf.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/18/2011
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law | Gary Moore
    So long as there was a rape, telling the truth will not get her into trouble, but her lying to the police may help him at trial
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 8/18/2011
    Shane Law Office
    Shane Law Office | Robert J. Shane
    I don't believe the prosecution would charge your friend with filing a false police report if the rape case is strong and the cooperation of your friend is needed to obtain a conviction.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 8/18/2011
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    Thank you for your inquiry You should talk to the prosecutor and explain the situation. I cannot promise that you would not be charged, but if the overriding goal is to seek charges, then this is what you need to do to get the case going forward. On the opposite extreme is doing nothing. If so, then there will be no rape case, and, without knowing more, there appears to be no greater risk of getting charged with filing a false police report that the risk you currently face. The choice is yours.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/18/2011
    Lewis & Dickstein, P.L.L.C.
    Lewis & Dickstein, P.L.L.C. | Loren Dickstein
    You should hire an attorney ASAP. Filing a false felony police report is a felony and you should do nothing and talk to no one until you've retained a Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/18/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Report it. make the correction. It would be understandable that she was afraid.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/18/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    She should provide law enforcement with the correct information. If the information is deemed reliable and sufficient, a prosecutor may file criminal charges.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 8/18/2011
    Furlong & Drewniak PLLC
    Furlong & Drewniak PLLC | Thaddeus Furlong, Esq.
    If she wants the person caught and punished she should contact the officer who took the initial report and correct it. May not be all that bad since nobody innocent was arrested.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 8/18/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    Your friend should call the police and correct the mistake. He or she should explain why he or she misled the officer and cooperate fully. He or She may also sue her or his attacker for battery so his or her justice will include bankrupting the person who did this.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/18/2011
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    A prosecutor probably will not file against you for giving false information, as this sometimes happens for a lot of the same reasons you listed. Your problem could be the delay and how good the evidence still is. The longer a person waits, sometimes evidence becomes stale, or inadmissible for many reasons. What I would suggest doing is calling the police and reporting it. You will be assigned an investigator who will meet with you and take a report and evaluate the case.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/18/2011
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