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

The bill, which makes falsely reporting a crime a felony in certain circumstances, now awaits Gov. Kay Ivey's signature

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.


The Alabama Capitol Building

A bill increasing penalties for falsely reporting a crime to law enforcement is heading to the desk of Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey after it passed the Senate by a 32-0 vote on Wednesday. (Elijah Nouvelage for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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.

Alabama Steve Marshall and Carlee Russell

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall previously told Fox News Digital that he was concerned Carlee Russell's hoax might have a "crying wolf" impact on the public. (Hoover Police Department and Alex Wong/Getty Images)


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. 

placeholderA 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.
Carlee Russell leaves court

Carlee Russell pleaded guilty to falsely reporting information to law enforcement in March. She avoided jail time, but was ordered to pay more than $17,000 in restitution. (Dana Mixer for Fox News Digital)

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.

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