Sunday, May 19

Alabama lawmakers strengthen penalties for falsely reporting a crime after Carlee Russell kidnapping hoax

A bill increasing penalties for falsely reporting a crime to law enforcement is heading to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk.

Lawmakers in the Yellowhammer State passed the bill on Wednesday with a 32-0 vote in the Senate.

Many in the state called for harsher penalties for making a false police report after Carlee Russell faked her own kidnapping off Interstate 459 in the city of Hoover last summer – a case that drew national attention.

CARLEE RUSSELL PLEADS GUILTY TO FAKE KIDNAPPING REPORT CHARGES IN ALABAMA

Falsely reporting a crime to authorities is a Class A misdemeanor in Alabama, but the legislation, if signed by Ivey, will make the crime a felony if it “alleges imminent danger to a person or the public.”

It would also make it easier to order restitution for the amount of money authorities spend working on the case.

“The goal of this legislation is to create a deterrent for those who blatantly lie in reporting a crime, so that those who do, experience the full force of the law,” state Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a statement.

CARLEE RUSSELL ADMITTED TO LYING ABOUT HER DISAPPEARANCE BY ALABAMA FREEWAY: POLICE

Russell, who later admitted to fabricating the entire incident, disappeared for two days after calling Hoover police to report a toddler on the interstate on July 13. She told the dispatcher she was stopping her car to check on the child, then faked her abduction.

She showed up at her parents’ house late in the night on July 15 after massive searches led by law enforcement and volunteers and national headlines about her alleged kidnapping. 

A few days later, her attorney issued a statement through police stating there was no kidnapping and that Russell never saw a toddler. She also apologized to law enforcement and the volunteers who searched for her through the statement.

Russell pleaded guilty on March 21 to charges of giving false information to law enforcement. She was given a suspended six-month sentence, which allows her to avoid jail, and was ordered to pay more than $17,000 restitution.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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