Many people don’t realize that they can face federal felony charges for lying to a federal agent in conjunction with a criminal investigation. The same charges can be levied if you lie to members of the judicial, executive, or legislative branches of government.
If you have been charged with making false statements, it’s important to contact a defense attorney immediately. They will be able to assess the situation and speak to the law enforcement agents on your behalf. A conviction of this offense can come with prison time.
When False Statements Charges Apply
False statement charges occur when people agree to comply with federal criminal investigations, but then they provide false information during their interview. Interviews are often conducted in pairs, with one agent asking questions and the other writing down the proceedings. This can cause the interviewee to feel disoriented and powerless.
If you are suspected of a crime, the agents will try to make you lie or incriminate yourself during the interview process. Sometimes the government uses false statements charges to threaten people or intimidate them into confessing what they know. By contacting a defense attorney, you can protect yourself against the intimidation tactics and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the investigation process.
Types of Offense
There are a few types of false statement offense. Most often, people are charged with making false statements when they misrepresented the facts or misspoke as they talked to a federal agent. Even the smallest and most insignificant lie is enough for you to be charged in federal court with this crime.
You can be charged with the same crime if you are testifying before Congress or have received a subpoena to testify in front of a grand jury. If you lie or misrepresent the facts, you may be charged even if you aren’t under oath. Intentional misleading of authorities can lead to a trial in federal court. Individuals are often charged with making false statements because of things they said in an interrogation.
There’s another false statement offense you might be charged with in other circumstances. If you make a false statement intending to defraud a bank or financial institution, you may be subject to federal charges. This includes everything from lying verbally to providing inaccurate, false, or incomplete information when applying for a loan or mortgage.
Usually, this type of false statement charge is accompanied by a fraud charge. It is often associated with mortgage fraud and fraudulent insurance policies. Similarly, you may face federal charges if you make false statements when applying for healthcare coverage or other healthcare benefits.
Penalties for Conviction
It’s common for false statement charges to be just one charge in a much larger prosecution. However, it’s not unheard of for people to be charged with this crime alone, usually as an intimidation tactic. Lying to federal agents or government officials is a crime, even if you don’t implicate yourself in any other crimes by doing so.
If you are convicted of making a false statement, you could face a maximum of five or eight years in prison. The maximum penalty depends on the exact offense. It’s common for people to face false statement charges when being investigated for white collar crime like embezzlement, money laundering, and fraud. White collar crime is a non-violent crime motivated by finances.
If you’re convicted of white collar crimes that involve plans to defraud the government, you could be facing decades or life in prison.
The laws about false statements are extremely broad and might seem applicable to every situation. This makes them easier for the government to prosecute than many other charges. However, if the government wants to achieve a conviction, they must prove that you made the false statement willingly. You cannot be convicted if you accidentally made the false statement or made a statement about information you believed to be true at the time.
The prosecution has the burden of proving:
- The statement that was made was false.
- The statement was related to a matter involving the federal government.
- The defendant willingly and knowingly made the statement.
A defense attorney can consider the evidence and the extraneous factors involved in the case. They can then explain what your options are for a defense or negotiation going forward.