Federal laws prohibiting false statements give the government a powerful tool in prosecuting individuals who knowingly and intentionally lie to or conceal information from any federal agent or investigator, and those who use false statements or documents as part of a scheme to defraud the United States. Even if you aren’t in a courtroom, under oath, you could end up facing federal criminal charges for making a false statement if you lie to the FBI, IRS, DEA, or any other federal agency as part of a criminal investigation, or if you make false statements to any part of the legislative, executive or judicial branch of the United States government. If you or someone you love has been charged with the crime of making a false statement to the federal government, contact Federal Criminal Defense Pro as soon as possible to protect your rights. If you are convicted of the crime, you could end up serving time in prison, and we will do everything in our power to prevent that from happening.
Qualified Federal False Statements Attorney
In many cases, false statement charges are brought against individuals who, having agreed to cooperate with a criminal investigation by the federal government, say something that isn’t true in the course of the interview. Federal agencies like the FBI and DEA typically conduct interviews in pairs – one agent asks the questions and the other agent writes down everything that is said – and this results in an uneven two-against-one scenario. If the agents believe that you committed a crime or that you know something about a crime, they will use the interview to try to trip you up and get you to confess to the crime or catch you in a lie, which could result in false statement charges. The government can even use false statement charges as leverage against someone who they believe has information about a suspected crime. Whether you are accused of committing the crime yourself, you were a witness to the crime, or you simply know something that the government doesn’t, federal authorities can use the threat of false statement charges as leverage to convince you to tell the truth. At Federal Criminal Defense Pro, attorney Daniel R. Perlman and our team of experienced defense lawyers know how damaging it can be to be accused of making false statements in a matter that falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government, and we will go above and beyond to help you defend against these charges and avoid a conviction.
Types of False Statement Offenses
The crime of making a false statement is most often charged in situations where a person misspoke or misrepresented the truth while being interrogated by federal agents as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. If you are involved in a federal investigation, whether as a witness, subject or target, and you lie to federal agents, no matter how small and insignificant the lie may seem, you can be charged with the federal crime of making a false statement. The same is true if you are subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury, or you are testifying before Congress, and you make a false statement or misrepresent the truth. Whether you are under oath at the time or not doesn’t matter; if you lie or intentionally mislead federal authorities, you can be charged and tried with a crime under federal law. Because the false statements need not occur in a courtroom proceeding under oath for federal law to apply, it is common for individuals involved in a federal investigation to face charges for making false statements or misrepresentations during an interrogation.
Another type of false statement offense that can result in federal criminal charges involves the act of making a false statement with the intent to defraud a financial institution. This includes making a false statement or providing false or inaccurate information on a loan application or mortgage application. If you are accused of making a false statement on a loan document as part of a mortgage fraud scheme or providing false information in connection with obtaining an insurance policy, you could end up being charged with federal mortgage fraud or insurance fraud. You can also be charged with a federal crime for making a false or fraudulent statement in any matter involving a healthcare benefit program, including on an application to obtain healthcare coverage.
Federal Laws Prohibiting False Statements
The statute the government relies on most frequently to bring false statement charges is 18 U.S.C. § 1001 (statements or entries generally), which makes it a crime to knowingly and willfully, in any matter that falls within the jurisdiction of the legislative, executive or judicial branch of the federal government: “(1) falsify, conceal, or cover up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact; (2) make any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or (3) make or use any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry.”
Unfortunately, 18 U.S.C. § 1001 is just the beginning. There are a number of other laws scattered throughout the United States Code that make it a federal crime to make false or fraudulent statements or conceal information in any matter within the jurisdiction of the U.S. government. For instance, you can also face charges for making a false statement in connection with a “health care benefit program” under 18 U.S.C. § 1035 (false statements relating to health care matters). This includes intentionally misrepresenting your age, health or financial situation in order to fraudulently receive healthcare benefits or to pay less money for health insurance.
Making false statements in violation of federal law is also closely tied to the crimes of perjury and obstruction of justice, which are federal offenses punishable under 18 U.S.C. § 1621 (perjury generally) and 18 U.S.C. § 1505 (obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies and committees), and this is where things can get tricky. If you knowingly made a false statement in a federal government proceeding or investigation, you have already potentially violated 18 U.S.C. § 1001, and if you did so with the intention of influencing, obstructing or impeding a federal investigation, you may have violated U.S.C. § 1505 as well. Furthermore, if the false statement was made under oath (i.e. in federal court or during a congressional hearing), you could also be charged with perjury under 18 U.S.C. § 1621.
Penalties for a False Statements Conviction
Oftentimes, a false statement charge is attached to another criminal charge, like fraud, but it is important to understand that making a false statement to a federal agent, a financial institution or any government entity is a crime in itself, and you can be prosecuted for this crime separately, which can add several years onto your prison sentence if you are found guilty of the crime. For instance, if you are found guilty of making a false statement under 18 U.S.C. § 1001, you could face up to five years or eight years in prison, depending on the nature of the alleged offense. False statement charges are perhaps most commonly associated with white-collar criminal offenses, like fraud, money laundering, and embezzlement, which are crimes that are non-violent in nature, motivated by financial gain and committed through the use of deception or misrepresentation. There are many different criminal offenses that fall under the umbrella category of white-collar crime, and if you make false statements with the intention of defrauding the government or a financial institution, you could find yourself facing charges for a white-collar crime, which can carry steep penalties, possibly including years in prison or even a life sentence.
False Statements Defense
Federal false statement laws are alarmingly broad and can seemingly be applied to any situation, but one important caveat is that, in order to make a case for false statement charges, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly and willfully made the false statement. In other words, if you accidentally make an incorrect statement during a federal investigation or unknowingly misrepresent your income on a healthcare benefit application, you should not be charged with the crime of making a false statement. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you can’t be wrongfully convicted of the crime and sentenced to prison. Still, the way the criminal justice system is meant to work is that the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and in order to establish the defendant’s guilt, the prosecution must prove each element of the alleged crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In order to be convicted of making a false statement in violation of U.S.C. § 1001, the following elements must be present:
- The statement was materially false,
- The statement was made regarding a matter within the jurisdiction of the federal government, and
- The statement was made knowingly and willfully.
Defense Strategies in False Statement Cases
There are some more general defense strategies that can apply to a wide variety of criminal offenses, and some defense strategies that are specific to the crime of making a false statement, which is why finding a reputable defense attorney with experience handling false statement cases in federal court is so important. If your attorney can mount a credible defense that challenges the prosecution’s evidence and raises reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury, you may be able to obtain an acquittal at trial. The following are some possible defenses to federal false statement charges:
- You did not intend to defraud the government
- The false statement was not made intentionally or willfully
- The false statement was not material to the matter at hand
- The false statement has no reasonable relation to the federal government
- You were mistakenly identified as the culprit
- You were falsely accused of the crime
- The interrogation was illegal
- You committed the crime under duress
- The prosecution doesn’t have enough evidence to meet its burden of proof
Our False Statements Defense Lawyers Can Help
The best way to avoid making false statements to the federal government is to avoid making any statements at all. If you are involved in a federal investigation, or if federal agents come to your home with a search warrant, the best thing you can possibly do is remain silent and contact your attorney. If you do speak to the agents and you are accused of making false statements, you need the expertise of a skilled, seasoned federal criminal defense attorney who can develop a credible and compelling defense against the criminal charges. Keep in mind that false statements in the context of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 can be written or spoken and they do not have to be made under oath for federal charges to be filed, which means this statute can apply equally to lying to FBI agents during an interview or misrepresenting your income on documents submitted to the IRS. At Federal Criminal Defense Pro, it is our primary goal to reduce your exposure in terms of possible incarceration, and we are vigorous in our defense of clients accused of making false statements to the federal government.
Contact Federal Criminal Defense Pro Today
Federal statutes prohibiting individuals from making false statements to the government, for the purpose of defrauding a financial institution, or in the context of a healthcare benefit program are extremely broad, and can therefore be applied to a great number of situations or activities, which is why the charge is so common at the federal level. If you are facing charges in federal court because you have been accused of making a false statement to the FBI, IRS, DEA or another federal agency, you need a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney on your side with experience handling cases like yours in federal court. Making a false statement may seem like a relatively minor offense, but if you are convicted of this crime, you could be sentenced to years in prison, in addition to facing other potential penalties. The best way to protect yourself against false statement charges is to develop a credible defense strategy and to develop it early. Consult our aggressive criminal defense team at Federal Criminal Defense Pro today, so we can begin working on your case.