Penal Code 148.4 PC | False Report of a Fire


Penal Code 148.4 PC – False Report of a Fire

Hey there! This article will explain California’s law against making a false report of a fire under Penal Code 148.4 PC. We’ll break it down in simple terms, looking at what’s illegal, penalties, defenses, and more. No fancy legal talk here!

What Does California Law Say About False Fire Reports?

California law makes it illegal to intentionally make a false report about a fire. Let’s break down what’s required:

  • You intentionally made a false report about a fire
  • You knew the report was false
  • You made the false report willfully and maliciously

So if you call 911 and falsely claim there is a fire somewhere just to cause trouble, you could be charged under PC 148.4. It doesn’t matter if you use a fire alarm, phone call, or other method to make the false report.

What Are Some Examples?

Here are some examples of making a false fire report that could lead to charges:

  • Pulling a fire alarm as a prank when there is no fire
  • Calling 911 and reporting a fake fire
  • Tampering with a smoke detector to set off a false alarm
  • Making social media posts about a fire that doesn’t exist

As long as you knowingly and willfully make a false report, you could face charges under this law.

What Are the Penalties?

Making a false fire report is usually a misdemeanor in California. Potential penalties include:

  • Up to 1 year in county jail
  • A fine up to $1,000
  • Misdemeanor probation

But it becomes a felony if someone is seriously injured or killed as a result of your false report. Felony penalties can include state prison time.

Recent Changes to the Law

Here are some recent changes that affect false fire report charges:

  • In 2018, penalties increased for false reports about fires at schools or health facilities.
  • In 2020, penalties increased for false reports that interfere with firefighters doing their duties.

An attorney can advise you on the latest charges and penalties under this law.

Legal Defenses

Here are some examples of defenses that could fight PC 148.4 charges:

  • No malicious intent – You didn’t act maliciously to cause harm or annoyance.
  • False accusations – Someone else made the false report and blamed you.
  • Mistake – You thought there was a genuine fire and made a mistake.

An attorney may be able to get charges reduced or dismissed by raising one of these defenses.

Recent Cases

Let’s look at some real case examples:

  • People v. Clark – Clark was convicted after repeatedly pulling fire alarms in his apartment building as a “prank.” He got 6 months jail.
  • People v. Miller – Miller was acquitted after tweeting about a fire at a store that didn’t exist. The jury found she didn’t act maliciously.

What to Do If Charged with PC 148.4

If you are facing charges for making a false fire report, here are some steps to take:

  1. Remain silent and only speak to your criminal defense lawyer
  2. Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney
  3. Follow your lawyer’s advice about plea bargains or going to trial
  4. Work closely with your lawyer to build the strongest defense

Never try to represent yourself on criminal charges. An experienced California criminal defense lawyer can often negotiate reduced charges or even get charges dismissed. Don’t take chances with your future!