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Falsifying Records to Obstruct an Investigation

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Federal law prohibits the destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in both federal investigations and bankruptcy proceedings. Violations of this law are penalized heavily and defendants who are convicted face up to twenty years in prison. To speak with a white collar crime attorney about your own charges, please call a member of our legal team today.

What Does the Prosecutor Have to Prove to Obtain a Conviction?  

According to federal law, anyone who knowingly alters, mutilates, conceals, or destroys any record, document, or tangible object used to preserve information, with the intent to obstruct or influence a federal investigation can be sentenced to two decades in prison. This includes the destruction of corporate audit records, for which a person can be imprisoned for up to ten years.

Falsifying public records is a specific intent crime, which means that before a defendant can be convicted, he or she must act intentionally, knowing that the action is a violation of the law. A prosecutor may also be required to prove that the defendant knew that the documents in question were public records. However, the government is not required to prove that the defendant’s primary intention was to obstruct justice and impede a federal investigation. Instead, the prosecutor must only prove beyond a reasonable doubt that one of the accused’s intentions was to obstruct justice, although the intention must be substantial in order to qualify.

If these factors have been established, the prosecutor is still required to prove that the defendant did in fact, actually alter, conceal, or falsify a record before a conviction can be secured. If the record in question falls under the category of a tangible object, the government will also need to demonstrate that the object is used to record or preserve information.

Prohibited Conduct  

This law broadly prohibits three types of conduct, although all three involve either the misappropriation of or damage to public records. Prohibited conduct includes:

  • The concealment, removal, destruction, or mutilation of public records;
  • Any attempt to mutilate, conceal, remove, or destroy public records; and
  • Carrying a public record away with the intent to conceal or destroy it.

Custodians of public records who take part in this kind of prohibited conduct face harsh penalties, such as:

  • Imprisonment for up to three years;
  • A $2,000 fine;
  • Forfeiting their office; and
  • Being disqualified from holding any government office in the future.

Taking, using, or attempting to use a record that specifically relates to a claim made against the U.S. government in order to obtain compensation is also unlawful and is punishable by five years in prison, as is stealing, altering, or falsifying any court record.

Call an Experienced White Collar Crime Lawyer Today  

If you are suspected of committing a white collar crime or if you have already been charged with an offense, please contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., Criminal Defense Attorneys by calling 305-670-9919 to schedule a free case evaluation with a dedicated and skilled Miami white collar crime attorney. With significant experience in the courtroom, our legal team has the expertise to navigate government investigations, negotiate settlements, and defend our clients against serious white collar crime charges.

Resource:

law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1519

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