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The Consequences of Making False Statements to Federal Investigators

Under federal law, it is a crime to make a false statement or conceal anything from a federal investigator, whether he or she is a federal agent or a member of Congress. A conviction for this federal offense can have serious consequences, including jail time, so if you were recently involved in a federal investigation or were charged with making a false statement, it is crucial to contact an experienced federal crimes attorney who can help you formulate a defense.

Federal Law

The federal statute regarding false statements is incredibly broad in scope. As a result, it is unlawful for a person to take any of the following actions:

  • Falsify or conceal a material fact;
  • Make a false or fraudulent statement; or
  • Make or use a document knowing that it contains a materially false or fraudulent statement.

This prohibition applies across the board to any matter under the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branches of government. A conviction under this statute can lead to imprisonment for up to five years, although if the defendant is also charged with participation in terrorist activities the sentence could be extended up to eight years.

Limitations

Fortunately, there are some restrictions under the statute. For instance, The Department of Justice does not charge a person with violating this statute in situations where an individual is suspected of a crime and during an investigation, denies guilt in response to questioning. However, this exception does not protect those who make affirmative or voluntary statements to federal criminal investigators. In fact, some courts have held that the statute applies to investigators other than FBI agents, including the following individuals:

  • Employees of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service;
  • Employees of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission;
  • Employees of the U.S. Army; and
  • Employees of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

False responses to questions asked for administrative purposes or during routine inquiries can also be prosecuted even though the defendant was not part of an official investigation. Finally, if a defendant initiated contact with the government in order to obtain a benefit, even a simple denial of guilt will be considered a false statement.

However, to convict a person under this statute, the prosecution must show that the defendant knowingly misled federal investigators. This can be difficult to establish, so a lack of intent is often the accused’s best defense.

Contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Today to Speak with an Experienced Federal Crimes Attorney

The law prohibiting the making of false statements to federal investigators is extremely broad. As a result, many innocent people are unfairly charged under this statute, so if you are a resident of Florida and have questions or concerns about your own involvement with federal investigators, please contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Criminal Defense Attorneys at 305-670-9919 to schedule a free initial case evaluation with an experienced and dedicated criminal defense lawyer who can explain your legal options and prepare you for the possible repercussions of your actions.

Resources:

law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1001

justice.gov/usam/criminal-resource-manual-916-false-statements-federal-investigator

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