To be charged of a federal false statement means you have violated title 18 of the United States Code, section 1001 whose penalty is a prison sentence not more than 5 years and a fine of $250,000. If the false statement charge is terrorism related the conviction can go up to 8 years. This charge is commonly used by prosecutors to throw a spanner in the works of federal criminal proceedings so they can have a bit more leverage.
A federal false statement means any information that you willfully or knowingly falsify, conceal or cover up by use of trickery, device or scheme. It also states that material fact or making material false, or makes a fraudulent or fictitious statement or misrepresents with an aim to deceive. Subsection (b) of that section however does not apply to any other party to the proceeding or that party’s counsel. Even if the defendant gave misleading information to safeguard another person’s rights, its interpreted as concealing information and many notables have faced jail time in that respect.
Making use of a document that with an absolute knowledge that its contents stand contrary in falsity, fiction and fraud to a federal proceeding; using that document to then mislead any federal jurisdictional official falls under the charge of federal false statements. Any written or spoken communication to a federal judge therefore, such as a written notice or a motion to suppress evidence; needs to be looked at for any falsity or interference that may be construed as deceiving.
There exists a lesser offence known as giving a false report which; depending the authority you are dealing with, e.g. police or fire services, can be tried as a misdemeanor or an infraction. However, giving false statements under oath to any federal agent or in a federal courtroom for that matter is a serious federal crime. This is called Perjury; which is a felony contrary to federal law 18USC §1621. Perjury as a separate crime is punishable with a fine or an imprisonment of up to 5 years. www.wikipedia.org states that ‘perjury is an intentional act of swearing a false oath or falsifying the truth, whether in writing or spoken; concerning matters material to an official proceeding.’
If you are under a federal investigation, the sensible thing to do when under the interrogation is refer all questions to a criminal defense attorney. All federal agents by rule; work in pairs, one of whom subjects the interviewee to a barrage of questioning while the other records it. They may strike with a house visit, or call at your place of work; warrants and all. The defendant is however within their rights if they keep quiet or refer to legal counsel; they can also plead the 5th Amendment of the US Constitution. The amendment go the Bill of Rights states in partiality that; ‘no person shall be held answerable for infamous or capital crimes unless on presentment or indictment of grand jury; except in a military, militia or active duty capacity’.
The prosecution of federal false statements may hit a legal snag if there are issues with proving that the falsity and deception lies within the content of 18 U.S.C § 1001. If it was given in simple denial of guilt i.e. in a commission of inquiry or a senate committee hearing; then it cannot be tried under section 1001. Before an amendment to this section in 1996, it stated broad that; ‘within a US departmental or agency’s jurisdiction if whoever knowingly or willfully’… therefore any voluntarily given information to a federal agent applies to this section.
Rulings by some courts however, have upheld than the refusal to accept responsibility, has no impairment on the effectiveness of the investigating agency. This is known as the ‘exculpatory no’; a doctrine that’s not applicable in cases where the aforesaid statement go further to mislead affirmatively, a federal investigation. United States v. North, 708 F. Supp. 364,369 (DDC 1988)
All information that you are about to give an official from any federal jurisdiction must not be false or fraudulent in any way to ovoid the charge of federal false statements. Think carefully if confronted by a Federal Bureau of Investigations agent or an Inland Revenue Service investigator. Consider the fact that if you say something false or provide altered material evidence and it falls under the broad scope of section 1001; you risk a large fine or a very long federal penitentiary visit.