Making false statements to federal officials or using written materials that contain false statements during the course of an interview or federal investigation or other procedure within the jurisdiction of a federal agency or department, such as the FBI, is a crime against the government, and such crimes come with long-lasting penalties. There are a number of laws that criminalize that act of making false statements to federal officials or in any matter pertaining to the federal government, and a conviction under these laws can result in incarceration, fines and other serious consequences.
If you or someone in your family has been arrested for allegedly making false statements to a government official in violation of federal law, you need a reputable criminal defense attorney on your side who can stand up to the government and help you fight the charges. Contact our defense lawyers at Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers as soon as possible to find out what we can do for you. Our attorneys have years of experience protecting the rights of clients charged with making false statements and other federal offenses, and we can provide you with the reliable and knowledgeable legal representation you deserve.
False Statement Charges
Making a false statement is considered a type of fraud, which is a white-collar crime characterized by the intentional use of deceit or trickery for the purpose of securing unfair or unlawful gain. The general federal false statements statute is 18 U.S. Code § 1001 – Statements or Entries Generally, which prohibits knowingly and willfully making false or fraudulent statements, or concealing information, pertaining to “any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States.” Under this extremely broad law, you can be charged with making false statements if you:
• Falsify, conceal, or cover up by any trick, scheme or device a material fact,
• Make any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation, or
• Make or use any false writing or document, knowing that it contains any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or entry.
What Constitutes a False Statement?
The federal government frequently uses 18 U.S. Code § 1001 to prosecute lies and cover-ups, which are generally easier to prove than the underlying crimes. In fact, the general statute for making false statements is so broadly defined that it can apply to nearly any situation in which a person makes a false statement or representation, falsifies any entry or record, makes or uses any false document, or conceals any information pertaining to any matter that falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government. That means you could be charged with making false statements if you are under investigation for money laundering or any other federal crime and you lie to federal agents about your involvement in the crime.
This is true even if you received no warnings of any kind from the government and even if the government officials were not actually misled by your false statements. If you knew that the statement was false at the time you made it, you can be charged with a federal offense, even if you did not know that lying to the government is a crime or that the matter you are lying about falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government. If this sounds confusing to you, that’s because it is.
The best way to learn about your legal rights and potential criminal liability in a false statements case is to speak to an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer.
Fraud and False Statements
In addition to the general false statements statute, there are other statutes that make it a federal crime to make a false or fraudulent statement under more specific circumstances, say, in connection with healthcare benefits or a mortgage loan. In fact, there are dozens of statutes under 18 U.S. Code Chapter 47 that cover crimes involving fraud and false statements, including the following:
• 18 U.S. Code § 1002 – Possession of false papers to defraud the United States
• 18 U.S. Code § 1005 – Bank entries, reports and transactions
• 18 U.S. Code § 1011 – Federal land bank mortgage transactions
• 18 U.S. Code § 1035 – Title records
• 18 U.S. Code § 1027 – False statements and concealment of facts in relation to documents required by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974
• 18 U.S. Code § 1028 – Fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents, authentication features and information
• 18 U.S. Code § 1035 – False statements relating to health care matters
• 18 U.S. Code § 1038 – False information and hoaxes
Penalties for Making False Statements
The penalties imposed by the court for the crime of making a false statement will vary according to the nature and severity of the crime. For instance, if you are found guilty of making false statements under the general false statements statute, 18 U.S. Code § 1001, you could be fined up to $250,000 and imprisoned for up to five years in federal prison. If the offense involves an act of international or domestic terrorism, defined as “violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State” (18 U.S. Code § 2331), you could be imprisoned for up to eight years.
If you are charged with a violation of 18 U.S. Code § 1035 for making false statements in connection with the delivery of or payment for health care benefits or services, you could also be imprisoned for up to five years.
The crime of making a false statement is rarely charged on its own. Instead, the charge is often tacked onto another fraud offense or white-collar crime, such as misappropriation, money laundering, embezzlement, bankruptcy fraud, immigration fraud or mortgage fraud. In some cases, a defendant in a white-collar crime case won’t be convicted of (or won’t even be charged with) the underlying criminal offense, but can still be convicted of lying about the criminal activity.
Take Martha Stewart, for instance. The insider trading charges against her were dropped, but she was convicted on charges of intentionally misleading FBI and SEC officials who questioned her about insider trading. Any federal offense you are accused of committing in connection with the false statements charge can result in additional criminal penalties.
What Our Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Do for You
Knowingly making materially false statements to a federal official is a serious crime. Considering the vague nature of the federal false statements statute and the long-lasting punishment you could face upon being convicted for making false statements, it is in your best interest to consult a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney any time you are approached by a federal agent requesting an interview.
At Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers, our attorneys know how frightening and confusing it can be to find out that you are under investigation by the FBI or another federal agency, and we will do everything in our power to guide you through this process and help you avoid being charged with the crime of making false statements or any underlying federal offense. The defense team at Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers has an in-depth understanding of the federal criminal code and we know how to mount a thorough and effective defense on your behalf.
Possible Defenses in False Statements Cases
Many criminal cases involving white-collar crimes and other serious federal offenses begin with thorough investigations by federal agents who are looking to gather as much evidence as possible before filing charges. If you discover that you are the target of a federal investigation, you may be tempted to protect yourself by lying about your involvement in the crime. Unfortunately, making false statements to federal agents or withholding material facts from investigators can result in additional criminal charges.
That is one of the main reasons we recommend consulting an experienced criminal defense attorney right away upon discovering that you are under investigation for a federal crime, so your attorney can begin working on your defense from the very beginning. The following are three common defenses to a false statements charge:
• You did not know the statement was false
• The statement was not materially false
• There was an illegal interrogation
Contact Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers Today for Legal Help
The law prohibiting false statements covers just about any material statement made to any federal agency on any matter the agency is investigating (even if the statement is oral and is not made in an official proceeding under oath), as well as any written representations made to government officials in the course of that investigation. This leaves the door wide open for the federal government to pursue criminal charges against you in any case where you are accused of knowingly and willfully lying or misrepresenting facts to federal agents, even if there isn’t enough evidence to convict you of the underlying crime.
That is where a skilled criminal defense attorney comes in. Our federal defense attorneys at Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers will know which defenses to assert in your false statements case and how to effectively negotiate with the prosecution to get the best outcome and mitigate the criminal charges and penalties against you. Contact Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers today to speak to our skilled criminal defense attorneys about your case.