WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Lying to Police is Obstruction

Feb 18, 2012

It should be common sense that lying to police can get you in trouble. But an Illinois Supreme Court ruling says it can actually be a crime.

The case dates back to April 2007, when a LaSalle County Sheriff's deputy thought he recognized someone driving on a suspended license.

He got in his car and followed the woman home, but by the time he got there she was already going inside.

The woman's husband came out and told the deputy his wife wasn't home. He also said he was the person driving the van. That statement eventually earned him a conviction for obstruction of justice.

On appeal, the man argued the charge was inappropriate because he did not physically obstruct the police.

But the Illinois Supreme Court says a physical act is not necessary. The justices say providing  “misinformation” to police is enough to support a charge of obstruction.

But like any good cop show, this case ends with a twist.

After the man lied about his wife being home, he offered to let the deputy “go inside and look” around the house.

The  deputy chose not to. But because he could have, the Supreme Court says  the husband's  overall conduct was not obstruction and it reversed his conviction.

Thanks to Illinois Public Radio