False Report of an Emergency
The First Amendment right to freedom of speech applies to most speech but does not apply to false reporting of an emergency.
The old truism that freedom of speech does not give anyone the right to cry “Fire!” in a theater is true for a reason, and that reason is that actual or potential harm may ensue from either fleeing from a dangerous situation or being called to help in one. A false report of an emergency puts others at unnecessary risk, and for this reason these false reports are punishable as a crime and could result in jail time. If you are in this situation, call a good bondsman to get you out of jail.
The California Penal Code 148.3
It addresses this criminal act in the following passage:
“(a) Any individual who reports, or causes any report to be made, to any city, county, city and county, or state department, district, agency, division, commission, or board, that an “emergency” exists, knowing that the report is false, is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.”
What is an “Emergency”?
Any condition that might (or does) trigger “response of an emergency vehicle, aircraft or vessel or the evacuation of any area, building, structure, vehicle, or of any other place, OR an Amber Alert”
In California, a violation of Penal Code 148.3 is a misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of one year in a county jail. However a judge has discretion in sentence to grant probation or reduce jail time.
However, should a false alarm result in bodily injury or death the offense is then charged as a felony under California law. Under such a charge the perpetrator may be sentenced for up to three years in a California State Prison.
Triggering a fire alarm or making a false report of a fire comes under Penal Code 148.4 and carries criminal penalties as well.
It sometimes happens that an innocent person is charged with one of these offenses. It may be that there was a belief in good faith that there was an emergency or that someone else made the false alarm and another person was blamed for it. Often someone will think that triggering a false alarm is a prank and be unaware that lives may be put at risk, and not realize the criminal nature of such an action. In any case, while legal defense is being sought there are bail bondsmen to help in getting release from jail so that the case may be handled in such a way that justice is served for all.
A good bail bond company is the key to getting out of jail so that these matters can be handled by a good attorney in accordance with California law.