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posted on 9/3/23

Disorderly conduct is a criminal offense that can encompass a wide range of behaviors in Illinois. Under Illinois law, the act of making a false report of a crime or calling 911 for no valid reason is prohibited by statute, specifically 720 ILCS 5/26-1(a)(5) and (6).

Disorderly Conduct in Illinois

In Illinois, disorderly conduct is defined under 720 ILCS 5/26-1 as engaging in certain prohibited behaviors that disturb the peace and cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm. The law is designed to protect the safety and well-being of individuals within the community and maintain order in public places. Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor offense, but the severity of the charge and potential penalties can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case.

False Reporting of a Crime and Frivolous 911 Calls

Section 720 ILCS 5/26-1(a)(5) and (6) specifically addresses false reporting of crimes and frivolous 911 calls. Subsection (5) pertains to knowingly transmitting a false report of the commission of a crime to any peace officer, fire department, or emergency medical service personnel. Subsection (6) deals with calling 911 with the intent to annoy, alarm, or harass the operator or emergency personnel.

In recent years, the United States has witnessed a concerning increase in false reports of crimes and frivolous 911 calls. The rise of social media and the ease of communication have contributed to this trend, as individuals sometimes seek attention or entertainment by fabricating emergencies or incidents. This not only wastes valuable resources but also jeopardizes the safety of those genuinely in need of assistance. Law enforcement agencies across the nation are grappling with ways to curb this trend and allocate resources more effectively.

The most recent and prominent example of this occurred when a person in Alabama called 911 and falsely reported spotting a toddler walking along a highway. Furthermore, this person staged her kidnapping at the scene of the purported wandering toddler. This case sparked national interest and prompted an investigation by both state and federal authorities. The person later made a statement through their attorney that the report was false. No statement about the charges this person may face has been announced.

The primary objective behind criminalizing false reports and frivolous 911 calls is to ensure the efficient utilization of emergency services and resources. Law enforcement agencies and emergency responders play a critical role in maintaining public safety, and unnecessary diversion of their attention and resources due to false information or non-emergency calls can lead to dangerous delays in responding to actual emergencies.

Penalties Associated With Disorderly Conduct Offenses

A violation of one of these provisions can result in either a misdemeanor or felony charge, contingent on the nature of the false report made. Felony disorderly conduct offenses are generally filed at O’Hare airport for actions aboard a flight.

When it comes to false safety reports, the offense is classified as a Class A misdemeanor, which can lead to a sentence of up to one year in county jail or a maximum of two years under supervised probation. Additionally, fines of up to $2,500 may be imposed. 

False reports involving abuse and neglect fall under the category of Class B misdemeanors, carrying potential penalties of up to six months in county jail or up to two years of probation. Fines of up to $1,500 can also be levied. 

More serious false reports such as fake fire alarms, fabricated crime reports, fictitious 911 complaints, forged child abuse or neglect reports, or fraudulent ambulance requests are all treated as Class 4 felonies. These felonies can result in a sentence of up to three years in state prison and fines that could amount to $25,000. In the case of a false bomb report, the offense escalates to a Class 3 felony, which can lead to a prison term of up to five years. Furthermore, a mandatory fine ranging from $3,000 to $10,000 is imposed for this offense.

Olsson & Glasgow: Assisting Those Charged With Offenses

If you or someone you know is facing charges related to false reporting of a crime or frivolous 911 calls, seeking experienced legal representation is crucial. The attorneys at Olsson & Glasgow will meticulously review the evidence, analyze the circumstances surrounding the alleged offense, and work to build a strong defense on your behalf. Whether it involves negotiating with prosecutors, presenting compelling arguments in court, or exploring alternative resolutions, our team is committed to protecting your rights and advocating for your interests throughout the legal process.

If you find yourself facing charges related to these offenses, the attorneys at Olsson & Glasgow in Schaumburg, Illinois, are here to provide the legal support and guidance you need. When you need an attorney, experience matters. Contact us now for a confidential consultation.