Are There Mistakes On Your Criminal Police Report?
It’s no secret that the criminal justice system heavily favors police officers when it comes to reporting the facts about a crime. As officers of the law, their judgment and opinions are held in higher regard than those of regular citizens. With that said, police officers are human beings, and they occasionally make mistakes like everyone else.
When a police officer writes a criminal police report, they might make a mistake that could have a direct impact on your case. However, contrary to popular myth, there is very little chance that a police report mistake will lead to all your charges being dropped.
If a mistake is present, it’s going to be one of three types:
- A mistake of fact
- A mistake of judgement
- A mistake of law
While unlikely, more than one of these types of mistakes may be present in your report. If you believe that a mistake has been made, you should alert your attorney to the problem immediately.
Mistakes Of Fact
Mistakes of fact include things like spelling errors, incorrect contact information, and/or social security numbers. It also includes confusion about specific details of the crime (i.e., the report says you were wearing a blue shirt, but you were wearing a green one).
When a criminal police report contains mistakes of fact, the mistakes are typically corrected by amending the police report. As long as you or your attorney provide police with documentation regarding any errors, they will file an amended report to correct the record.
Mistakes Of Judgement
A mistake of judgment is a very subjective thing and is very difficult to prove. Let’s say, for example, that you were pulled over and the officer suspected you of driving under the influence based on your behavior. Based on that judgment, they search your car and find contraband that leads to your arrest.
Challenging that initial judgment–that they believed you were under the influence (even if you were not)–is hard to prove to be a mistake. The courts rely heavily on the judgment of police officers, and they are reluctant to contradict their judgment without substantial evidence.
Mistakes Of Law
Mistakes of law are the one area where a mistake can potentially result in reduced or dropped charges. If an officer is mistaken about the statute or whether certain behavior constitutes a crime, the report can be amended, or charges dropped.
With that said, a reasonable mistake of the law doesn’t necessarily prohibit criminal charges or a conviction.
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