In recent months, due to the appearance on the political scene of certain actors and the priority that public institutions are giving to actions against gender violence, we are increasingly hearing the term of false denunciation. Although it does not have to be related to this type of crime, the truth is that it is something very residual but severely punished by the Penal Code. Here we want to talk to you about what would happen if you received one.
Definition of false complaint
According to article 456 of the Penal Code, this crime is understood as one in which a person imputes certain acts constituting a criminal offense to another being aware of its falsehood and / or executing a reckless disregard for the truth. Furthermore, it is a multi-offense. This means that it not only tries to harm a specific subject, but also the Administration of Justice itself.
Essential requirements for a complaint to be considered false
It is not possible to speak of false complaints as such until the judicial authority that received it does not issue a sentence or a firm judicial resolution that entails its filing or dismissal. This is a ‘sine qua non’ requirement since, in the first place, it is necessary to prove that the facts were not committed before determining whether there was a malicious intention on the part of the complainant against the accused.
At this point, it must be made clear that not all the complaints that are filed or dismissed are considered false. By this we mean that the complainant may have had the feeling that there was a crime or criminal offense to report but that, in the absence of evidence, the competent judicial authority cannot consider that the offense was actually committed.
In any case, once there is a resolution or decision to file or dismiss the case, the judge or the court that heard the complaint may act ex officio or at the request of the defendant against the complainant. For this, it must consider that there are sufficient indications to consider that the accusation was manifestly false from the beginning and that the subject was perfectly aware of it.
On the other hand, there are other requirements so that a complaint can be considered false beyond the need to have a firm decision or resolution on file or dismissal:
- The reported events must be concrete and directed towards a determined and identified subject. By this we mean that it must appear with name and surname.
- Those reported acts must constitute a criminal offense.
- The imputation of the facts must be manifestly false.
- The complaint should have been made before an authority with an obligation to act in response to it.
- That there is an awareness of the false nature of the facts imputed, that is, that there is criminal intent and acts in bad faith with the purpose of harming the interests of another person.
What to do if you receive a false report?
In the first place, whether this complaint involves arrest, which is common in those carried out for reasons of gender violence, or not, you must remain calm. At that point, the most important thing is to collect all the evidence that may be available and that are indications or evidence that the imputed crime has not been committed. At that time, it is best to call a lawyer who specializes in false complaints.
In the event that you are in prison or in the dungeon, this will be impossible. In that case, you have to call the lawyer and, later, provide him with the contact information of close people and his confidence that they can get those tests and indications that you know exist. From them, the jurist will be in charge of building a defense strategy focused on demonstrating the lack of veracity of the complaint and causing absolution by the judge or court.
What to do if the judge or court issues a judgment or acquittal
Once the judicial process has been overcome with the filing or dismissal of the case, it is time to reflect on the sentence or resolution and on how the process has been carried out.
For example, if the acquittal has been produced based on the lack of evidence that the accused committed the crime, that is, based on the doubts about his authorship, it will be better to leave things as they are since the possibilities of proving that there has been a false complaint will be practically null.
On the other hand, if the evidence presented by the accused was convincing and the acquittal was produced in response to the doubts that arose from the complainant’s testimony, then it is appropriate to start an accusation process for false accusation. As long as, of course, the judicial authority does not initiate it ex officio, which is also a possibility as we said earlier.
Penalties for the crime of false reporting
Filing a false complaint is a crime and, as such, it is punished quite harshly by the Penal Code. Specifically, the complainant may have to comply with the following:
- Serious crime: prison sentence of between 6 and 12 months in prison and a fine of between 12 and 24 months.
- Less serious crime: fine between 12 and 24 months.
- Mild crime: fine of 3 to 6 months.
The classification of the crime for filing a false complaint will depend, mainly, on the seriousness of the criminal offense that is reported. In this sense, denouncing someone for rape with knowledge that they are lacking the truth would be considered a serious crime, while doing the same for insults and slander through social networks would be a minor crime.
Differences between the crime of false reporting and crime simulation
Many people tend to confuse both crimes. However, although with certain similarities, they are not the same nor are they punished in the same way.
Specifically, for there to be a simulation of crime, the complainant must simulate, either in court or before the police, having been the author or, more frequently, the victim of a non-existent criminal offense and that, as a result of it , gave rise to the start of procedural actions. This type of crime is also understood as the reporting of a criminal offense that has not happened even though you are not a victim or a person responsible.
Therefore, the main difference between the two crimes is that in the simulation crime it is not attributed to a specific person unless it is oneself, while in the false complaint it is even knowing that he is innocent.
In short, even if there are not a large number of false complaints in our country per year, or at least they receive this official cataloging, it is necessary to know how to act if they receive one from a family member, friend or acquaintance. After all, no one is exempt from acting against him in bad faith. In that case, there is no better alternative than to put yourself in the hands of a specialized criminal lawyer.