Criminal Attorney Oklahoma Defense Lawyer Adam R. Banner OKLAHOMA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY AT LAW

The Oklahoma Legal Group Blog

Ryan Lochte, International Crime, and the Olympics

Adam Banner - Monday, August 22, 2016

As the Rio Olympics come to a conclusion, the United States has once again demonstrated that it is one of the world's top athletic powerhouses on the international stage. Less flattering however, is the conduct of some of the athletes who helped position the United States of America at the top of the medal race.

In the eyes of many, the conduct of some members of the U.S. swim team, specifically Ryan Lochte, has given the rest of the world more fuel for their fire regarding our nation's less than stellar reputation among many other countries. 

Lochte and other members of the U.S. National swimming team concocted a half-assed account of armed robbery, which was quickly investigated and dispelled by Brazilian officials. However, as a result of the investigation it was determined that the robbery allegations were at worst false and at best over exaggerated.

An investigation into the incident revealed that Lochte and the other swimmers with him were extremely intoxicated when they stopped at a convenient store and broke a bathroom door. This led to a security guard drawing his weapon the Americans. When the swimmers arrived back to camp, the allegation of armed robbery suddenly surfaced. 

Brazil was not happy with the false allegations, going so far as to remove two of the swimmers (Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger) from their flight home and to actually move towards indicting Ryan Lochte and James Feigen on allegations of falsely reporting a crime. Currently though, the indictment has only been suggested by police. Under Brazilian law, the indictment is first suggested by the police, but it must ultimately be approved by a judge.

Now, the issue raises two distinct questions: 1) is it really a crime to make a fraudulent police report and 2) can Brazil do anything to bring Lochte and Feigen before its court system to dispose of the criminal allegations brought against the Americans in questions?

As far as the first question is concerned, yes it is a crime to make a false or misleading police report. It is a crime in Oklahoma, and it is a crime in Brazil. If the swimmers did in fact present a false allegation to law enforcement, the judge with jurisdiction could move forward with an official indictment. If officially indicted, the swimmers could face a fine and jail time.

What stands to be settled though, is whether an actual police report was ever made. It is one thing to contact law enforcement and personally report an incident to the authorities, but it is another situation entirely to merely make mention of an incident without personally contacting law enforcement and formally filing a report. By all accounts, it does not appear that any of the swimmers actually contacted law enforcement, so there may not even be an criminal activity to consider. Bentz and Conger were not not suggested for indictment, and Feigen paid a settlement to avoid any legal issues. 

That leaves only Ryan Lochte to shoulder any potential legal blame for the situation. So, as to the second question, can Lochte be held to answer for a potential indictment in Brazil while he is "safe" on U.S. soil? The United States does have an extradition treaty with Brazil, but it highly unlikely that Lochte (or any other American) would ever be extradited to Brazil for falsely reporting a crime.

Under the terms of the extradition treaty between the United States and Brazil, extradition will only occur when certain conditions are met. One of those conditions is that the crime has to carry a possible penalty of more than one year incarceration in the requested State. That will not be the case if the "requested State" has a similar statute to Oklahoma for making a false report of a crime. In Oklahoma, making a false police report only carries up to 90 days in county jail and/or up to a $500.00 fine.

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