When a wealthy Virginia businessman was reported missing by his wife on April 18, 2018, law enforcement leaped into action. An enormous team of federal and state investigators used helicopters, search dogs, and patrols to search the state of Virginia for any sign of 38-year-old Larry Price, Jr. Eyebrows were raised after Price was found, however, when he claimed to have been abducted by a Pagan biker gang. Now, Price has been charged with knowingly and willingly making false statements to law enforcement.
The FBI agents involved with the case were suspicious of Price's story from the beginning. They did not readily believe Price's original story, which involved being abducted at gunpoint by total strangers. Price claimed that the two men who abducted him took his keys and a pistol before leaving him on the side of a road. According to court records, the agents found it odd that there was no evidence to corroborate this story.
Price changed his story when the FBI came back to question him again; this time claiming that a Pagan biker gang that he had become acquainted with had drugged and kidnapped him in order to rob him. Price claimed the bikers took him to a motorcycle shop that he owned in an effort to rob it, but surveillance video confirmed these events never happened.
Eventually, Price admitted that his disappearance was voluntary and that he had attempted to run away with a woman who was managing a business he owned. The two had taken steps to start a new life in secret, even renting a home near where the woman's father lived.
Obstructing a Law Enforcement Officer in Washington
While Price faces federal charges in Virginia, Washington has laws on the books barring similar behavior. These laws are obstructing a law enforcement officer, making a false or misleading statement to a public official, and false reporting. All three charges are gross misdemeanors that carry up to a year in jail.
Obstruction a law enforcement officer is willfully hindering or delaying an officer in discharging their duties. While this charge typically refers to state or local law enforcement officers, it can also include any public enforcement official including firefighters, code officers, and zoning officials.
Making a false or misleading material statement to a public servant is different from obstruction charges in that it requires a person to make a demonstrably false oral or written statement to be false. For this to be a crime, the false statement must have been reasonably relied upon by the official.
False reporting involves reporting a supposed crime or impending emergency that is both false and likely to be relied upon by law enforcement.
Facing Charges of Obstruction in Washington State
Sometimes a simple misunderstanding can snowball into a charge of false reporting or making a false statement. If law enforcement rushes to judgment during such a misunderstanding, it's possible you could be arrested despite no crime occurring. An experienced attorney may be able to defend you in court or even show the prosecutor you were wrongly charged in the first place. If you have are facing criminal charges and want the help of a former prosecutor in shaping the best defense possible, contact The Law Offices of Steve Karimi for your free consultation.