2020 Georgia Code
Title 16 - Crimes and Offenses
Chapter 10 - Offenses Against Public Administration
Article 2 - Obstruction of Public Administration and Related Offenses
§ 16-10-20. False Statements and Writings, Concealment of Facts, and Fraudulent Documents in Matters Within Jurisdiction of State or Political Subdivisions

Universal Citation: GA Code § 16-10-20 (2020)

A person who knowingly and willfully falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact; makes a false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or makes or uses any false writing or document, knowing the same to contain any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry, in any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of state government or of the government of any county, city, or other political subdivision of this state shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000.00 or by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years, or both.

(Code 1933, § 26-2408, enacted by Ga. L. 1976, p. 483, § 1; Ga. L. 1979, p. 1068, § 1; Ga. L. 1982, p. 3, § 16.)

Cross references.

- Violations of this section via assertions of false claims under the Georgia Cotton Producers Indemnity Fund, § 2-19-7.

Violation of this section for falsification of contractor affidavit, § 13-10-91.

Annual salaries of certain state officials; cost-of-living adjustments, § 45-7-4.

Law reviews.

- For article surveying legislative and judicial developments in Georgia local government law for 1978-79, see 31 Mercer L. Rev. 155 (1979). For survey article on criminal law and procedure, see 34 Mercer L. Rev. 89 (1982). For annual survey on criminal law, see 64 Mercer L. Rev. 83 (2012).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Former Code 1933,

§§ 26-2402 and 26-2408 (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 16-10-11 and16-10-20) distinguished. - See Carl E. Jones Dev., Inc. v. Wilson, 149 Ga. App. 679, 255 S.E.2d 135 (1979).

Constitutionality.

- O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20 was not unconstitutionally vague under Ga. Const. 1983, Art. I, Sec. I, Para. I, as: (1) the statute gave a defendant ample notice of the prohibited conduct; (2) the statute also provided sufficient objective standards to those who were charged with enforcing the statute; and (3) a defendant's act was made criminal when a false statement was made, without regard to the result of that act, and the fact that application of the statute's standards sometimes required an assessment of the surrounding circumstances to determine if the statute was violated did not render the statute unconstitutional. Banta v. State, 281 Ga. 615, 642 S.E.2d 51 (2007).

False statement statute, O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20, when properly construed to require that the defendant make the false statement with knowledge and intent that the statement may come within the jurisdiction of a state or local government agency, is constitutional because correctly interpreted, the statute raises no substantial constitutional concern on the statute's face; the statute requires a defendant to know and intend, that is, to contemplate or expect, that his or her false statement will come to the attention of a state or local department or agency with the authority to act on the statement, and as properly construed, O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20 may only be applied to conduct that persons of common intelligence would know was wrongful because the statement could result in harm to the government. Haley v. State, 289 Ga. 515, 712 S.E.2d 838 (2011), cert. denied, U.S. , 133 S. Ct. 60, 183 L. Ed. 2d 711 (2012).

Construction with O.C.G.A. § 16-10-24. - Appeals court rejected the defendant's claim that under the rule of lenity, the defendant's act of violating O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20 could only be considered a misdemeanor, because the acts alleged met the definition of misdemeanor obstruction of a police officer, as both O.C.G.A. §§ 16-10-20 and16-10-24 did not define the same offense, did not address the same criminal conduct, and there was no ambiguity created by different punishments being set forth for the same crime; hence, the rule of lenity did not apply. Banta v. State, 281 Ga. 615, 642 S.E.2d 51 (2007).

Construction with O.C.G.A. § 16-10-25 - When, after viewing the transaction between defendant and the police officer as a whole, it was apparent that the same evidence could be used to prove both the offense of giving a false name and the offense of making a false statement, the appeals court reversed defendant's felony conviction and remanded the case for sentencing under the misdemeanor statute. Dawkins v. State, 278 Ga. App. 343, 629 S.E.2d 45 (2006).

Section does not create civil cause of action.

- O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20 was enacted for the protection of the state itself, not private parties, and it does not create a civil cause of action. Pelletier v. Zweifel, 921 F.2d 1465 (11th Cir.), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 855, 112 S. Ct. 167, 116 L. Ed. 2d 130 (1991).

Violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20 constitutes "racketeering activity" for purposes of a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO), O.C.G.A. § 16-14-1 et seq., claim. Maddox v. Southern Eng'g Co., 216 Ga. App. 6, 453 S.E.2d 70 (1994).

Trial court erred in failing to grant defendant's demurrer to ten predicate acts of racketeering activity involving the filing of false deeds because the deed transactions were part of 14 theft by taking transactions and therefore could not form the basis of separate predicate acts. Adams v. State, 231 Ga. App. 279, 499 S.E.2d 105 (1998).

When the evidence did not show that the defendant's misrepresentations in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20 were the proximate cause of the defendant's injuries, the plaintiff lacked standing to assert claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, O.C.G.A. § 16-14-1 et seq. Maddox v. Southern Eng'g Co., 231 Ga. App. 802, 500 S.E.2d 591 (1998).

In a product liability action against an auto manufacturer claiming Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, O.C.G.A. § 16-14-1 et seq., violations, plaintiffs failed to establish a violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20 as a predicate offense because they did not present evidence that defendant made representations to any department or agency of state or local government. Gentry v. Volkswagen of Am., Inc., 238 Ga. App. 785, 521 S.E.2d 13 (1999).

Venue of the crime of making a false statement was in the county where defendant signed a form falsely attesting to the use being made of government property, not the location of the office to which the form was sent. Spray v. State, 223 Ga. App. 154, 476 S.E.2d 878 (1996).

Venue of a prosecution for the use of a false document is proper in the county in which it was submitted for use, even if the person charged made the document in another county. State v. Johnson, 269 Ga. 370, 499 S.E.2d 56 (1998).

Trial court committed reversible error as a result of convicting a defendant for making false statements to a state or local government agency or department in a case wherein the state failed to prove venue in the jurisdiction that the defendant was tried. The state was obligated to prove that the defendant's false statements to Federal Bureau of Investigation officers occurred in Fulton County wherein the defendant was tried, thus, the defendant's conviction required reversal. Tesler v. State, 295 Ga. App. 569, 672 S.E.2d 522 (2009), cert. denied, No. S09C0810, 2009 Ga. LEXIS 334 (Ga. 2009).

Defendant's conviction for making a false statement in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20 was reversed because the state offered no proof that the jail where the alleged statement was made was in a particular county and since the defendant was also driven, the false statement may have been made in another county. Stockard v. State, 327 Ga. App. 184, 755 S.E.2d 548 (2014).

Venue for false writing and false police report.

- Evidence was insufficient to prove venue for charges of making a false writing and making a false police report because, despite the fact that the state introduced evidence to show where the defendant allegedly committed the crimes, the state did not prove that the city was entirely within the forum county. Lembcke v. State, 277 Ga. App. 110, 625 S.E.2d 505 (2005).

Sufficiency of indictment.

- Trial court did not err by denying the defendant's general demurrer alleging that the defendant concealed a material fact within the jurisdiction of the police department based on the failure to allege the essential element of materiality because the allegations that the defendant knowingly and willfully concealed a romantic relationship with the man that murdered the defendant's husband from police department representatives while the police department was investigating the murder necessarily raised an inference that the defendant acted intentionally to conceal that fact from the police department representatives with knowledge that the fact was material. Sneiderman v. State, 336 Ga. App. 153, 784 S.E.2d 18 (2016), overruled on other grounds by Quiller v. State, 338 Ga. App. 206, 789 S.E.2d 391 (2016).

Lack of proper notice to police officer.

- Charge of false writings and statements, in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20, which arose during the performance of official duties by the defendant, a police officer, should have been dismissed because proper notice pursuant to O.C.G.A. §§ 17-7-52 and45-11-4 was not given to the defendant; other charges against the defendant were not subject to dismissal as those charges did not arise in the performance of official duties, and the lack of notice did not improperly influence or infect the other convictions. Wiggins v. State, 280 Ga. 268, 626 S.E.2d 118 (2006).

With regard to a defendant's conviction on three counts of false statements and writings, the trial court erred by denying the defendant's motion for a new trial as a result of erring by denying the defendant's plea in abatement and motion to dismiss the indictment as the state violated the notice provisions under O.C.G.A. §§ 17-7-52 and45-11-4, with respect to peace officers and public officials, by failing to notify the defendant when the proposed indictment would be presented to the grand jury. The defendant, a police officer and police chief of two municipalities, was accused of falsifying time records and, as a police officer, was entitled to the notice set forth under the statutes. Smith v. State, 297 Ga. App. 300, 676 S.E.2d 750 (2009), aff'd, 286 Ga. 409, 688 S.E.2d 348 (2010).

Concealing material fact from police.

- Evidence was sufficient to convict the defendant of concealing a material fact from the police department as the defendant engaged in conduct that could result in harm to the investigation of the murder of the defendant's husband because the defendant had a duty to answer truthfully and disclose relevant information when the defendant voluntarily responded to questions about the man who killed the defendant's husband; and the defendant responded to the officers' questions by giving the officers false and misleading information about the defendant's relationship with the man deliberately designed to deceive the officers and impede the investigation by creating the false impression that the man had no motive to murder the defendant's husband. Sneiderman v. State, 336 Ga. App. 153, 784 S.E.2d 18 (2016), overruled on other grounds by Quiller v. State, 338 Ga. App. 206, 789 S.E.2d 391 (2016).

Use of false documents.

- Because O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20 does not place a limitation on the prohibited conduct of "making or using" false documents, prosecution for use of a false document is not limited to those situations in which the person charged uses false documents prepared by another. State v. Johnson, 269 Ga. 370, 499 S.E.2d 56 (1998).

When the defendants were charged with making or using "any false writing or document, knowing the same to contain any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry," the trial court did not err in refusing to instruct the jury that a false writing submitted to an agency must be "material" before it can be considered a crime. Bullard v. State, 242 Ga. App. 843, 530 S.E.2d 265 (2000).

Offenses of falsifying official documents and submitting false financial reports and embezzlement of funds representing traffic tickets and other fines from the city was supported by sufficient evidence, including that the losses stopped after the defendant resigned and that the defendant had more deposits to defendant's personal account than from defendant's salary; the jury's guilty verdict was supported over defendant's defenses that included that the city: (1) did not lose the money, but had poor accounting procedures; (2) had four other employees that had access to the safe and that could have taken the money; and (3) blamed the defendant because the city's insurance policy did not cover non-theft-related losses, and that the defendant and defendant's spouse had outside receipts or gifts to explain deposits greater than their salary income deposited to their account. Stack-Thorpe v. State, 270 Ga. App. 796, 608 S.E.2d 289 (2004).

False statement to state trooper.

- Defendant, by stating to a state trooper that the defendant's brother-in-law had been driving a truck involved in a fatal accident when, in fact, the defendant had been the driver, made a false statement in a matter within the jurisdiction of a department of state government. Watkins v. State, 191 Ga. App. 87, 381 S.E.2d 45, cert. denied, 191 Ga. App. 923, 381 S.E.2d 45 (1989).

False statement to government agency.

- Evidence supported the defendant's convictions of felony murder while in the commission of cruelty to children in the first degree and making a false statement to a government agency after a 23-month-old child whom the defendant had been baby-sitting died from severe aspiration pneumonia due to brain swelling and bleeding on the surface of the brain caused by multiple blows to the child's head and face; the defendant was the only adult with the child during the afternoon and early evening in question, the child had appeared uninjured and was walking when the child visited a store earlier in the day, the child had "pattern injury" contusions indicating that hair had been pulled out, a medical examiner testified that the child's brain swelling would have prevented the child from performing normal functions such as walking, talking, or waking, and the defendant told several conflicting stories about how the child had been injured. Banta v. State, 282 Ga. 392, 651 S.E.2d 21 (2007).

Because the defendant violated O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20 each time defendant intentionally made a false statement or concealed a material fact when applying for public assistance, and violated O.C.G.A. § 49-4-15(a)(2) by knowingly and intentionally accepting more public financial assistance than that to which the defendant was entitled, the two statutes had different elements of knowledge and intent; accordingly, the offenses did not merge. Ousley v. State, 296 Ga. App. 486, 675 S.E.2d 226 (2009).

O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20 requires proof that the defendant knowingly and willfully made a false statement and that he or she knowingly and willfully did so in a matter within the jurisdiction of a state or local department or agency, but this does not require proof that the defendant made the false statement directly to the government agency, although in such cases it would normally be undisputed that the defendant knew and intended that the statement came within the jurisdiction of the agency; however, the statute does require the defendant to have made the false statement in some intended relationship to a matter within the state or local agency's jurisdiction, that is, to have contemplated that the statement would come to the attention of an agency with the authority to act on the statement. Furthermore, knowingly and willfully making a false statement in a matter within a government agency's jurisdiction is a lie that threatens to deceive and thereby harm the government, if only because the government may need to expend time and resources to determine the truth. Haley v. State, 289 Ga. 515, 712 S.E.2d 838 (2011), cert. denied, U.S. , 133 S. Ct. 60, 183 L. Ed. 2d 711 (2012).

Evidence supported the defendant's conviction for making a false statement or writing in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20 when the defendant executed a false Cancellation of Certificate of Title for Scrap Vehicles form, representing that there were no security interests in the vehicle, because the form clearly stated that the form was to be sent to the Department of Revenue - Motor Vehicles Division. Edwards v. State, 330 Ga. App. 732, 769 S.E.2d 150 (2015).

False statement to police.

- Despite defendant's argument that defendant's acquittals for aggravated assault and firearm possession and defendant's conviction for giving a false statement were mutually exclusive, they involved completely different issues of, on the one hand, whether defendant shot the victim while defendant and the victim's mother struggled over the gun and, on the other hand, whether defendant told the officer that the victim's mother shot the victim before shooting defendant; thus, the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction for making a false statement to the police. Williams v. State, 261 Ga. App. 410, 582 S.E.2d 556 (2003).

Evidence that defendant fatally shot the victim during a scuffle in a robbery attempt and told the police that the defendant was shot by a robber was sufficient to support the defendant's conviction for felony murder, aggravated assault, making a false statement to law enforcement officers, and giving a false name to law enforcement officers. Sampson v. State, 279 Ga. 8, 608 S.E.2d 621 (2005).

Evidence was sufficient to support defendant's convictions for felony murder, aggravated assault, and giving a false statement when defendant and the codefendant were arrested when the codefendant sought medical treatment for a gunshot wound sustained in the incident, the codefendant gave police a false name and said that the codefendant was shot when someone tried to rob the codefendant, the codefendant told a neighbor who saw the wound that someone else was worse off than the codefendant was, defendant asked the neighbor's niece to tell police the codefendant was at the niece's house on the night of the crime and was robbed when leaving, and, while in jail, defendant told one inmate defendant shot someone in the incident and told another inmate that defendant was involved in a robbery of this victim that went bad, and that defendant and the codefendant had been looking for a safe with money and marijuana. Styles v. State, 279 Ga. 134, 610 S.E.2d 23 (2005).

Sufficient evidence supported the defendant's convictions of false statements under O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20 and conspiracy to commit theft by shoplifting under O.C.G.A. § 16-4-8, as the co-conspirator testified as to the defendant's request for specific items to be stolen, the special agent testified about the defendant's false statements, and the defendant gave a statement admitting to the conduct; the testimony of the co-conspirator and of the special agent established the elements of the offenses, and the jury, under former O.C.G.A. § 24-9-80 (see now O.C.G.A. § 24-6-620), had the right to disbelieve the defendant's testimony to the contrary. Acey v. State, 281 Ga. App. 197, 635 S.E.2d 814 (2006).

In a case in which defendant appealed the three-year sentence imposed following the revocation of defendant's supervised release, defendant argued unsuccessfully that the district court impermissibly based the sentence on speculation and unproven conduct. The district court did not sentence defendant for any unproved role in an apartment-complex shooting, the court considered the circumstances surrounding defendant's lies to the police during a murder investigation; in light of defendant's statements to the defendant's parole officer and the evidence linking defendant to the scene of the crime, the district court did not err by concluding that defendant's misconduct was more serious than a simple false statement. United States v. Rieara, F.3d (11th Cir. June 4, 2010)(Unpublished).

Trial judge's explanation to a defendant's counsel that based on counsel's questioning of an investigator regarding the defendant's statement to the investigator that the defendant lived in Florida, the judge was going to expand the indictment to include falsifying or concealing a material fact, which was one possible violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20, when the defendant had only been charged with making a false statement, did not constitute an improper remark under O.C.G.A. § 17-8-57 because it was a colloquy with counsel regarding possible jury charges and did not express an opinion on what had or had not been proved. Adams v. State, 312 Ga. App. 570, 718 S.E.2d 899 (2011), cert. denied, No. S12C0500, 2012 Ga. LEXIS 263 (Ga. 2012).

Evidence was sufficient to convict the defendant of making a false statement to the police department that the defendant was with the man that murdered the defendant's husband in Denver, Colorado because, while the defendant was attending an out-of-town business conference in Longmont, a Denver suburb, the man flew from Atlanta to Denver; the defendant picked up the man at the Denver airport; they drove together to the defendant's hotel in Longmont; the defendant changed a hotel reservation from one guest to two and requested a king size bed; and, after the conference, the defendant and man flew together from Denver to Atlanta. Sneiderman v. State, 336 Ga. App. 153, 784 S.E.2d 18 (2016), overruled on other grounds by Quiller v. State, 338 Ga. App. 206, 789 S.E.2d 391 (2016).

Evidence was sufficient to convict the defendant of knowingly and wilfully making a false statement to police officers in a matter within the jurisdiction of the police department because the defendant's statement that the defendant never suspected that the man who killed the defendant's husband was involved in the murder prior to December 28, 2010, was within the jurisdiction of the police department. Sneiderman v. State, 336 Ga. App. 153, 784 S.E.2d 18 (2016), overruled on other grounds by Quiller v. State, 338 Ga. App. 206, 789 S.E.2d 391 (2016).

Evidence that the defendant drove the subject car and let friends borrow the car, the car contained multiple items that identified the defendant, the defendant's sister testified that the sister sold the car to the defendant, who had made a couple of payments for it, and the registration for the car was found in the defendant's bedroom support the defendant's conviction for making a false statement when the defendant told officers the defendant did not have a car. Esquibel v. State, 339 Ga. App. 58, 791 S.E.2d 582 (2016).

Evidence was sufficient for the jury, which viewed video surveillance footage and read and heard the testimony regarding the defendants' statements to police, to have found the defendants guilty of making a false statement. Marlow v. State, 339 Ga. App. 790, 792 S.E.2d 712 (2016).

Evidence was sufficient to convict both of the defendants of two felony counts of making a false statement because the defendants' written and signed statements to police and their subsequent oral statements to police at the scene were inconsistent with the video surveillance; and the fact that the witnesses conceded on cross-examination that the defendants' statements could have been the product of an innocent lapse in memory was unavailing. Marlow v. State, 339 Ga. App. 790, 792 S.E.2d 712 (2016).

Defendant's statement to police, as contrasted with the video surveillance footage of the incident, was sufficient to support the defendant's conviction for making a false statement. Knowles v. State, 342 Ga. App. 344, 801 S.E.2d 582 (2017).

False statements in application for warrant.

- Evidence that the defendant filed an application for an arrest warrant against an officer who had attempted to pass the defendant some forms the defendant requested and that the defendant's failure to accept the forms caused the forms to fall and possibly brush the defendant's face was sufficient to show the defendant knowingly made a false statement or writing and supported a conviction for such. Simpson v. State, 327 Ga. App. 516, 759 S.E.2d 590 (2014).

False statement by city council member.

- Evidence was sufficient to convict a city council member of submitting false statements to the city to collect lost profits from the member's business while on an out-of-town trip for the city. Parris v. State, 216 Ga. App. 848, 456 S.E.2d 59 (1995).

False statements made in court clerk's office.

- O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20 is not limited to false writing made only within the executive branch of the state, and, thus, it does not except from its terms false statements made in a court clerk's office. Grant v. State, 227 Ga. App. 88, 488 S.E.2d 79 (1997).

Settlement by agreement.

- Trial court did not err in granting state senator's plea in bar to charges of making a false writing where there was no criminal charge pending, only the knowledge that public monies allocated for one purpose had been expended for another where the Department of Community Affairs was represented by the Attorney General in the matter. State v. Dean, 212 Ga. App. 724, 442 S.E.2d 830 (1994).

Award of restitution was proper.

- Trial court properly ordered that restitution was to be made directly to the homeowners, even if the homeowners technically were not the direct victims of the crime which the defendant, a contractor, committed of false statement and writing, concealment of facts, under O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20, in applying for a building permit because the homeowners suffered damages due to the lack of oversight of the defendant's work. The evidence at trial directly linked this lack of oversight to the defendant's misrepresentations on the building permit application, and demonstrated that if the defendant had submitted an application that accurately reflected the extent of the work to be performed for the homeowners, more safeguards would have been in place, which would have prevented the extent of the damage. Wilson v. State, 317 Ga. App. 171, 730 S.E.2d 500 (2012).

Alleging defendants "caused" false deeds to be made.

- Although O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20 focuses on the first-person as the actor, an indictment stating that defendants "caused" false deeds to be made alleged an offense within the section. Grant v. State, 227 Ga. App. 88, 488 S.E.2d 79 (1997).

Providing documents to others for submission to agency.

- Dismissal of an indictment for the use of false certificates was not required on the basis that defendant did not submit the certificates personally but only provided them to others who submitted them to a state department. State v. Johnson, 269 Ga. 370, 499 S.E.2d 56 (1998).

Forgery and false writing not included in each other.

- When the defendant was convicted of first-degree forgery under O.C.G.A. § 16-9-1 and false writing under O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20 for obtaining expungement order by presenting a Georgia Crimes Information Center certificate that had been altered to state that the defendant had no criminal record, the counts were not included in each other under O.C.G.A. §§ 16-1-6 and16-1-7; the false writing charge did not require proof that the writing purported to be made by authority of one who in fact gave no such authority, and the forgery charge did not require proof that the writing was made or used in a matter within the jurisdiction of district attorney's office. Jones v. State, 290 Ga. App. 490, 659 S.E.2d 875 (2008).

Requirements for state to prove.

- There is nothing in the language of O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20 that requires the state to prove that a defendant made the defendant's false statement directly to a department or agency of either a particular city or a county. Rather, the state need only show that the statement was made in a matter within the jurisdiction of one or more of those governments, which interpretation is based upon the federal courts' interpretation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001. Tesler v. State, 295 Ga. App. 569, 672 S.E.2d 522 (2009), cert. denied, No. S09C0810, 2009 Ga. LEXIS 334 (Ga. 2009).

State proved that the false statement alleged in the indictment was made in a matter within the jurisdiction of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) because the GBI was actively investigating a missing person case; because two videos contained clues referencing a Georgia missing person and the location of a missing person's body parts in Augusta, and it was then determined that the computer from which the videos were being posted was in Georgia, the jury could reasonably infer that the other missing person cases referenced in the first video would have a Georgia connection, giving the GBI jurisdiction to investigate the cases. Haley v. State, 289 Ga. 515, 712 S.E.2d 838 (2011), cert. denied, U.S. , 133 S. Ct. 60, 183 L. Ed. 2d 711 (2012).

Valid, though erroneous, order of court presented to deputy sheriff cannot constitute criminal conduct. Marcus v. State, 249 Ga. 345, 290 S.E.2d 470 (1982).

Jury instructions.

- Court's charge on criminal intent was sufficient to inform the jury that in order to convict it had to find that defendants intended to make the false statements. Implicit in such intent is knowledge of the falsity. Therefore, it was not reasonable to conclude that the jury could have understood that conviction was authorized even if defendants unwittingly made false or fraudulent statements. Tidwell v. State, 216 Ga. App. 8, 453 S.E.2d 64 (1994).

It was not error to refuse to charge the jury that materiality was an essential element of each prong of a false statement and writings offense as O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20 makes materiality only an element of the first prong of the offense, and the trial court's instruction mirrored the language of § 16-10-20, which contains no express materiality requirement as to the final two prongs. Dorsey v. State, 279 Ga. 534, 615 S.E.2d 512 (2005).

Trial court did not err by failing to charge on mistake of fact as a defense to the counts of perjury and use of a false document in connection with filing the petition for appointment of a guardian and/or conservator because it was undisputed that the defendant reviewed and verified the accuracy of the information to be filed, any mistake about what persons were the defendant's mother's lineal descendants was a mistake of law and therefore did not require a charge on mistake of fact, and the trial court fully and adequately charged the jury regarding perjury and filing a false document and that each required knowing and willful action. Law v. State, 349 Ga. App. 823, 824 S.E.2d 778 (2019).

Charge barred by limitations period.

- Since defendant's crimes of practicing dentistry without a license in violation of an earlier version of O.C.G.A. § 43-11-50 was subject to the two-year limitations period of O.C.G.A. § 17-3-1(d), and defendant's crime of false statements and writings in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20 was subject to the four-year limitations period of O.C.G.A. § 17-3-1(c), the court found that the claims were barred by the limitations period when the offenses were not charged in a timely manner, based on the evidence presented of when the crimes occurred; although the period of limitations did not include any period where defendant was unknown or the crime was unknown pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 17-3-2(2), it was shown that various individuals and state courts and other agencies were aware that defendant held oneself out as a dentist, which knowledge was imputed to the state and accordingly, the limitations time ran during that period. McMillan v. State, 266 Ga. App. 729, 598 S.E.2d 17 (2004), overruled in part by Gidwell v. State, 279 Ga. App. 114, 630 S.E.2d 621 (2006).

Application of the rule of lenity.

- Defendant's conduct, as charged, subjected the defendant to prosecution and sentencing under both O.C.G.A. §§ 16-10-20 and16-10-26 as the defendant willfully and knowingly made a false statement to law-enforcement officers by falsely reporting a crime the defendant alleged to have occurred in the officers' jurisdiction. Because the two statutes provided different grades of punishment for the same criminal conduct, the defendant was entitled to the rule of lenity. Gordon v. State, 334 Ga. App. 633, 780 S.E.2d 376 (2015).

Because the felony offenses of making a false statement and the misdemeanor offenses of making a false report of a crime provided different grades of punishment for the same criminal conduct, the defendants were entitled to the rule of lenity, the defendants' sentences for the felony offenses of making a false statement were vacated, and the defendants' cases were remanded for resentencing for the misdemeanor offenses of making a false report of a crime. Marlow v. State, 339 Ga. App. 790, 792 S.E.2d 712 (2016).

Rule of lenity applied.

- Under O.C.G.A. § 16-9-1(b), the defendant was guilty of intending to defraud the sheriff's department by knowingly making four writings in a fictitious name and under O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20, the defendant was guilty of knowingly and willfully making a false statement of the defendant's name, in four writings, with the intent to deceive the sheriff's department; therefore, because the two statutes provided for different penalties for the same conduct, the rule of lenity applied and resentencing was required. Martinez v. State, 337 Ga. App. 374, 787 S.E.2d 308 (2016).

Defendants' felony convictions for making false statements had to be vacated and the defendants resentenced for misdemeanor making a false report of a crime because the defendants conduct, as charged, subjected the defendants to prosecution and sentencing under both O.C.G.A. §§ 16-10-20 and16-10-26, which provided different grades of punishment, entitling the defendants to the rule of lenity. Marlow v. State, 339 Ga. App. 790, 792 S.E.2d 712 (2016).

Defendant's reference to pick-up truck defendant did not own as "mine" was not false statement.

- State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant made a false statement - i.e., the state failed to prove that the defendant ever affirmatively stated during trial testimony that the defendant owned a pick-up truck the defendant was driving. Because the use of the words "mine" and "my" regarding the truck could be words of possession as well as ownership, the defendant's conviction for false statement under O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20 was reversed. Thornton v. State, 301 Ga. App. 784, 689 S.E.2d 361 (2009).

Efforts to keep police from arresting child sufficient for conviction.

- Defendant's challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence to support the convictions for making false statements and misdemeanor obstruction of justice failed because there was evidence that the defendant was involved with and assisted the codefendant in the ruse to keep the police from arresting the defendant's child. Reeves v. State, 346 Ga. App. 414, 816 S.E.2d 401 (2018).

Award of restitution proper upon defendant's conviction for false statement.

- Trial court's award of restitution to the homeowners was supported by a preponderance of the evidence because the homeowners essentially suffered the entire loss of use of their home, and the trial court determined that these damages flowed from the defendant's false statement which allowed the defendant, a contractor, to skip the requirements for structural engineering and architectural reports on the contractor's renovation of the owners' residence and to avoid county inspections, which would have avoided or detected problems as the problems arose. Wilson v. State, 317 Ga. App. 171, 730 S.E.2d 500 (2012).

Cited in Peugh v. State, 175 Ga. App. 90, 332 S.E.2d 384 (1985); Byrd v. State, 216 Ga. App. 316, 454 S.E.2d 594 (1995); Schoenbaum Ltd. Co., LLC v. Lenox Pines, LLC, 262 Ga. App. 457, 585 S.E.2d 643 (2003); Roberts v. State, 280 Ga. App. 672, 634 S.E.2d 790 (2006); State v. Cerajewski, 347 Ga. App. 454, 820 S.E.2d 67 (2018); Redding v. State, 307 Ga. 722, 838 S.E.2d 282 (2020).

RESEARCH REFERENCES

Am. Jur. 2d.

- 32 Am. Jur. 2d, False Pretenses, §§ 77, 78.

C.J.S.

- 35 C.J.S., False Pretenses, § 38.

ALR.

- Fraud or perjury as to physical condition resulting from injury as ground for relief from or injunction against a judgment for personal injuries, 16 A.L.R. 397.

Perjury as predicated upon statements upon application for marriage license, 101 A.L.R. 1263.

Imputation of perjury or false swearing as actionable per se, 38 A.L.R.2d 161.

Sufficiency of proof, through one witness, to support conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 1001, relating to falsifying or concealing fact, or making false or fraudulent statements, etc., in matter within jurisdiction of any United States department or agency, 93 A.L.R.2d 730.

Civil liability of witness falsely attesting signature to document, 96 A.L.R.2d 1346.

Offense of perjury as affected by lack of jurisdiction by court or governmental body before which false testimony was given, 36 A.L.R.3d 1038.

Incomplete, misleading, or unresponsive but literally true statement as perjury, 69 A.L.R.3d 993.

Defenses to state obstruction of justice charge relating to interfering with criminal investigation or judicial proceeding, 87 A.L.R.5th 597.

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