Disclosing Confidential Information
Under federal law, it is a serious crime for a government employee to disclose confidential information. Those who are accused of this crime face imprisonment, fines, and mandatory removal from their position. Having a strong defense is crucial to avoiding these types of drastic penalties, so if you have been charged with disclosing confidential government information, you should retain an experienced white collar crime lawyer who can begin working on your own defense.
Who Can Be Prosecuted?
Only those who fill certain positions can be charged with disclosing confidential information. This includes:
- Officers or employees of the U.S.;
- Any person acting on behalf of the Federal Housing Finance Agency;
- Any agent of the Department of Justice (DOJ); and
- Any employee of a private sector organization who was assigned to a government agency.
If any of these individuals publishes, discloses, or divulges any information that came to them during the course of their employment or official duties can be charged with unlawful disclosure. However, in order for a person to be charged with this offense, the information must relate to another person’s or corporation’s:
- Trade secrets;
- Style of work;
- Confidential statistical data;
- Amount or source of income;
- Losses; or
Before a person can be convicted of disclosing this type of confidential government information, prosecutors must demonstrate that the defendant:
- Was an officer or employee of the U.S. government;
- Disclosed confidential information; and
- Knew that the information was confidential and that disclosure was forbidden.
If the government cannot establish these three factors, a defendant cannot be convicted of disclosing confidential information.
Potential Consequences of Conviction
Government employees and officials are also prohibited from permitting anyone from seeing or examining an income return that came into their possession in the course of their employment. In fact, anyone who willfully discloses a tax return or tax return information will be charged with a felony, which is punishable by a $5,000 fine and imprisonment for up to five years. This even applies to former officers and employees. Those who are convicted of this offense will also be required to pay court costs and if they are current government employees or officers, they must be dismissed from office or discharged.
Finally, anybody who receives unauthorized returns and chooses to print or publish that information can also be charged under this statute. Even offering anything of material value in exchange for tax return information is a felony offense, so anyone accused of committing this crime should speak with a white collar crime lawyer who can protect their rights and represent their interests in the courtroom.
Schedule a Meeting With an Experienced White Collar Crime Lawyer Today
If you were charged with disclosing confidential information and have questions regarding criminal defense litigation or white collar crime in general, please call Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., Criminal Defense Attorneys at 305-670-9919 to set up a free consultation, so that a member of our legal team can evaluate your case. Our Miami white collar crime attorneys have the experience and resources necessary to fight for the rights of our clients.