Carlee Russell, Russell

Carlee Russell Hoax Prompts Alabama Lawmaker To Propose Bill Making Lying To Law Enforcement A Felony

The Carlee Russell hoax has sparked a fire under Alabama lawmakers.

CBS 42 reports Alabama Sen. April Weaver (R-Brierfield) has announced plans to file a bill that makes faking an abduction a felony. As Russell faces two misdemeanor charges that could put her in jail for up to a year, Weaver feels that isn’t enough. “Individuals who concoct and carry out sham kidnappings and lead our law enforcement officers on wild goose chases must be given severe penalties for their deceptive actions,” Weaver said in a statement.

While the bill hasn’t been filed yet, the ramifications include “strong prison sentences and mandatory restitution requirements for the full cost of resources expended by law enforcement agencies during a hoax abduction.” Several local officials, like Hoover City Council President John Lyda, support a bill like this as he feels that innocent taxpayers shouldn’t be victims in cases like Russell’s. “There are 96,000 victims, and those are the taxpayers of the city of Hoover that not only sat on edge worried for our community but expended a tremendous amount of resources over the course of that week to chase down leads on something we now know was totally made up,” Lyda said.

Russell made headlines after her alleged kidnapping turned into a nationwide search. Days later, Hoover Police announced her abduction was a hoax, and the 25-year-old nursing student would face charges. If the legislature is passed, Alabama will be added to the list of other states—Tennessee and Florida—that already have laws in place for falsifying certain claims to law enforcement, according to WVTM 13.

Lying to law officials can carry sentences of up to five years in prison.

Jimmy Lambert, Alabama Sheriffs Association executive director, says he supports harsher penalties for lying to law enforcement. “We applaud this, and we’re looking forward to working with the legislature to do what we need to do to enhance the penalties,” Lambert said.

Weaver plans to introduce the bill in the coming weeks, and the city council will vote next week on a resolution to support such legislation. The next session for the legislative to be considered will begin in February 2024.