False Report Regarding Missing Child or Missing Person: Texas Penal Code §37.081

Texas Criminal Law

Nicholas Toufexis 2024 Best Lawyers "Ones to Watch" logo
Dallas Best Lawyers 2022 Badge

The Texas False Report Regarding Missing Child or Missing Person law gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you tried to deceive the police by making a false report of a missing child or person or by making a false statement in connection with a missing child or person.

The Texas legislature codified this criminal offense in Texas Penal Code Section 37.081. The legislature did not update this law in 2023. In fact, this law has not been amended since 1999.

The Penal Code codifies the Texas False Report Regarding Missing Person law under Title 8 “Offenses Against Public Administration,” Chapter 37 “Perjury and Other Falsifications.” Learn more about the Texas offense of False Report Regarding Missing Child or Missing Person below.

What is the current Texas law about False Report Regarding Missing Child or Missing Person?

The current Texas law defines the offense of False Report Regarding Missing Child or Missing Person in Penal Code Section §37.081 as follows:[1]

(a) A person commits an offense if, with intent to deceive, the person knowingly:

(1) files a false report of a missing child or missing person with a law enforcement officer or agency; or

(2) makes a false statement to a law enforcement officer or other employee of a law enforcement agency relating to a missing child or missing person.

How can I be charged with a False Report Regarding Missing Person offense in Texas?

You can be charged with False Report Regarding Missing Child or Missing Person in Texas if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 37.081 as described in the section above have been met.

What is the statute of limitation for False Report Regarding Missing Person in Texas?

As a misdemeanor, False Report Regarding Missing Person charges have a two-year limitations period.[2]

What is the penalty for a Texas False Report Regarding Missing Person offense?

A conviction for False Report Regarding Missing Child or Missing Person in Texas is punished as a Class C misdemeanor,[3] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $500. Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors here.

Can you get probation for False Report Regarding Missing Person in Texas?

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows both judges and juries to grant probation for False Report Regarding Missing Person, and judges are also allowed to accept deferred adjudication plea deals.[4]

What level of crime is False Report Regarding Missing Person in Texas?

The Penal Code classifies False Report Regarding Missing Person as a Class C misdemeanor.

Learn more about the penalty range for this offense in the section above.


^1. Texas Penal Code §37.081. This law is current as of the 88th Legislature Regular Session.^2. See Code of Criminal Procedure 12.02(a)^3. Texas Penal Code §37.081(b)^4. See Chapter 42, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 42A.054, Art. 42A.056, Art. 42A.102 .

False Report Regarding Missing Person text over Texas and American flags

Arrested or Charged With a Crime?