I have essentially 3 questions:
1) If someone knowingly files a false report of child abuse to an organization which oversees child welfare (ex Division of Family and Children Services in Georgia), and is found to have done so - have they committed a crime? What are the penalties for this action?
In some states, the answer seems to be pretty clear. Arizona, for example, has AZ Rev Stat § 13-3620.01 (1996 through 1st Reg Sess 50th Legis) which states that:
A. A person acting with malice who knowingly and intentionally makes a false report of child abuse or neglect or a person acting with malice who coerces another person to make a false report of child abuse or neglect is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor. B. A person who knowingly and intentionally makes a false report that a person has violated the provisions of subsection A of this section is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.
However, my understanding of this document on childwelfare.gov is that this is not a federal crime, and that penalties vary by state. According to the same source, 22 US states and territories do not specifically mention any penalties for false reports of child abuse* - does this mean it is not a crime in those states?
2) What might happen to an individual who knowingly files a false report of child abuse, and then submits a signed written statement indicating that this took place along with an apology and some sort of justification?
3) What justifications might permit such actions without consequences?
A mental illness which is usually treated by medication that went temporarily untreated
An appeal towards some great emotional distress
Say Jane Doe calls child protective services to report that her nephew, John is being mistreated after she has been unable to see her nephew for months because of an argument with the child's parents. Jane is very fond of John and cares for him like a parent. She becomes so worried about her nephew that she calls cps because she is (unreasonably) afraid that he might not be eating enough. Has Jane committed a crime? Is there any way for Jane to recount her false report without admitting to committing a crime?
*This document claims that in regards to false reporting of child abuse in Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin:
This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.