Giving a False Name Upon Arrest

What is a "False Name?"

Giving a false name upon arrest is a misdemeanor in Massachusetts with a maximum sentence of one year in jail, and/or a $1,000 fine. M.G.L. ch. 268, sec. 34A requires that any jail time sentenced from a charge of Giving a False Name be served "from and after" from any sentence from an underlying crime. Usually, someone charged with Giving a False Name is not sentenced to jail, and it can generally be dismissed as part of a plea deal.

In order to prove a charge of Disorderly Conduct, the prosecutor must prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt. Those are:

  1. The defendant was arrested;
  2. The defendant gave a false name or social security number for a dishonest purpose;
  3. And the defendant provided a false name knowingly and willfully.

The statute provides that a dishonest purpose includes (among others) trying to conceal a criminal record, trying to avoid answering an outstanding warrant, and with the intent to default to avoid prosecution.


Defense to Disorderly Conduct

Giving a false name is only a crime if it is given after arrest. A person is under no obligation to identify themselves to officers while walking down the street (if you are stopped in your car you are required to turn over your license). If you gave a false name to police before being arrested then you have not actually committed the crime.

The second element of Giving a False Name requires the prosecutor to prove that whatever name was given was given with a dishonest purpose. The law allows a person to change their name for any legitimate reason. If you give police a name that is not your legal name, but is a name you regularly assume (like a middle or maiden name), then that can be a defense to Giving a False Name


The Equitas Experience

The Attorneys at Equitas Law have years of experience dealing with some of the most serious crimes, in all courts throughout Massachusetts. Our attorneys are typically able to make it so Giving a False Name charges do not impact your record or are even dismissed entirely. Contact us today if you are facing a charge of Giving a False Name. Call or text (617) 723-4163 for a free consultation.

Some related content...

Criminal Defense FAQ

We Hope This Helps!

As a criminal defense lawyer, the fact that you clicked this accordion drives me crazy!

NO, you shouldn't! At least not without a lawyer after careful consideration.

Think about it. The police have a job, which is to solve crimes and bring criminal charges. The only reason for them to call you is because they are looking for evidence and there is no better evidence than your statement. Very often, they are calling you because they don't have enough evidence to charge you yet and they're looking to make their case with your statements.

They are not your friends. They are not trying to help you. There is nothing to "clear up". They will not go away if you just admit it and take responsibility.

Seriously, don't speak to the police without consulting a criminal defense lawyer first. It may be that we ultimately decide to give a statement, but only if it will help your case and after careful consideration!

First, unless you have committed a very serious crime, the chances of you going to jail are minimal (especially if you hire a good attorney). In any event, this is not something that typically would happen until many months down the road.

We're not going to lie to you, if the prosecution can meet the burden of proof on your case, there will be consequences, ranging from a slap on the wrist to jail time. Our job is to minimize the consequences and to eliminate them, if possible.

Of course, this depends on the charges, your criminal history and many other factors, so please feel free to reach out and we can give you a more specific answer.

No, no, no, no no! Even if you decide to eventually take responsibility, your lawyer should negotiate the best deal possible. What this means depends entirely the circumstances of your criminal charge, but very often you can take responsibility and still avoid a permanent criminal record. It may also involve:

  • Pre-Trial Probation or Pre-Trial Diversion
  • An outright Dismissal of your charges upon payment of court costs
  • A Continuation Without a Finding, including the length and terms of your probation (after which the case is dismissed)
  • A period of straight probation without a jail or state prison sentence
  • A suspended sentence, where a sentence is imposed, but not served unless probation is violated
  • A lesser sentence to jail or prison and less severe conditions upon release

This is to say nothing of the fact that your case may be winnable on a motion to dismiss or at trial!

In many cases, yes. Some cases have issues that may justify a Motion to Suppress or a Motion to Dismiss for lack of evidence.

Others can and should be taken to trial, or call for a plea as soon as possible so the client can move on with their life.

The decision on what to do really depends on the facts of the case and your individual goals.

This is why it is important to speak to an experienced Massachusetts criminal attorney who can quickly evaluate your specific case to see if there are any issues worth pursuing.

Related Content:

Strategy and Potential Issues in Massachusetts Criminal Cases

As a criminal defense lawyer, the fact that you clicked this accordion drives me crazy!

No, do NOT talk to the police without a lawyer. They are not your friends. They are not trying to help you. They will not go away if you just admit it and take responsibility.

Their job is to gather evidence of crimes and there is no better evidence than your statement.

It may be that we ultimately decide to give a statement, but only if it will help your case and after careful consideration!

It is very possible that you can avoid a criminal record, especially if you don't have a significant criminal history and and it is a relatively minor offense.

The answer to this question is very case-specific, depending on the facts of your case and what we decide to do with it.

A vast majority of our criminal cases cases are handled on a flat fee basis, ranging from a clerk-magistrate's hearing to superior court or federal court cases.

All we can tell you is that we are always up front and honest, and will treat you fairly. We're also willing to work with you on payments if we can, as this is not all about the money.

Of course, it is prefereable to have an attorney at the arraignment, but don't panic! First, you can call or text me at any time and I may be able to be there. If not, take a look at this link for all the information you need:

Arraignment in Massachusetts – What You Need to Know.

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