18 U.S.C. § 1001

False Statements – Federal Crime

Federal False Statements

Federal Mail, Postal Fraud – Table of Contents

Federal False Statements Overview

 
This is a very serious federal crime. To have a proper defense for this charge, you will need a licensed CA attorney and one that is licensed to practice in the United States Federal Court system.
 
Essentially, as discussed in more detail below, the United States Constitution makes it a federal crime to knowingly and intentionally make false or misleading statements (including omitting information) to federal investigators or those working as agents for the federal government. These statements, or omissions, must be “material” to the criminal investigation. In more familiar terms, this simply means it must be “important” and “substantial” to the criminal investigation. In short, it must be something that is so important that it would be likely to affect the outcome of the case or criminal investigation.  

Convictions for this can carry federal prison sentences.

What are Federal False Statements?

In simple terms, Federal False Statements are exactly what they sound like to a reasonable person; that is, these are statements that are false, misleading, untrue, and told by an individual to a Federal Agent.

However, it is a bit more complicated and involved than that simple definition. We will analyze in more detail below what it means to be charged with this crime and what the penalties can be if convicted.

Often, Federal Agents are involved in investigating complex “white-collar crimes”. There are many types of such crimes, but they usually include gathering a wealth of evidence from the Federal Government. In this particular situation, examples of Federal Agents are agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which is an agency of the Department of Justice, an agent with authority to investigate any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative or judicial branch of the United States, or any member of a federal agency with authority to conduct a criminal investigation. 

It is important to note a few aspects of this particular crime:

  1. You can be found guilty of committing the crime, even if you are not the original person that was under investigation;
  2. Your false statements do not need to be “under oath,” such as is required in perjury cases;
  3. The statements do nohttps://esfandilawfirm.com/wp-admin/plugin-install.phpt have to be “verbal.” If you attempt to conceal or otherwise “cover-up” or devise to falsify documents or destroy documents that relate to material facts of a criminal government investigation, you can be found guilty of the crime;
  4. As a potential witness to a criminal investigation, you do not need to speak to a Federal Agent if they show up at your door wanting to talk with you. However, suppose you choose to do so and make false or misleading material statements (in the ways discussed above). In that case, you can be found guilty of the crime.
  5. Concerning the above example, you have a right to consult and speak with an attorney when talking with federal agents, and you also have the right to remain silent. However, you are not allowed under any circumstances to lie to them or make materially false or misleading statements or omissions, including forging or destroying documents.
  6. If convicted of the crime, you will face a federal prison sentence, as discussed below.

 

Before delving into the statute and/or clause of the United States Constitution, which governs this crime, let’s discuss one crucial aspect. Many of these criminal investigations by federal agents are complex and cover a wide range of crimes. These agents are highly skilled and adept at obtaining evidence to help them solve their cases. They have access to all kinds of evidence such as emails, texts, letters, crucial documents, social media accounts, privately recorded conversations, and the like.

Thus, by the time they speak with you, or attempt to talk with you, you should know they probably have a lot more knowledge of what you may or may not know than you think. You may be tempted to “tell them anything,” so-to-speak, to avoid being associated with whatever it is they’re investigating. Suppose you are tempted to tell them anything that is false or misleading to their investigation, and you do. In that case, you will be convicted of the crime of Federal False Statements. Therefore, it is best to first find an experienced federal criminal defense attorney before speaking with a Federal Agent. As discussed further below, the attorney can assist and protect you when answering questions and giving statements to a Federal Agent that is investigating a criminal matter.

Elements:

18. U.S. Code § 1001 governs this crime.

The elements for the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt for a successful conviction for this Federal False Statements are as follows:

Within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, you are guilty of the crime if anyone knowingly and willfully:

  1. Falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
  2. Makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
  3. Makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry.

      
Examples:

Let’s briefly look at a few examples:

  1. Let’s assume a married couple, Mary and Lou, have been married a few years. Lou works for a wealth management company and is a financial advisor. Mary does not know much about his job other than that he is a financial advisor. However, Lou’s company has recently become under suspicion by the SEC, and it appears that Lou may have commuted securities fraud, a federal crime. Mary knows nothing about this crime. An FBI agent shows up at her door and asks her questions about Lou. She has the right not to talk to him. However, she does, and she answers all his questions honestly. She cannot be convicted of the crime of Federal false Statements.
  2. Let’s continue our example with the same couple, Lou and Mary. In this example, she still has no idea about any wrongdoing on the part of Lou. At 12:00 p.m. on Monday, she hears on television for the first time about his company’s trouble and Lou being investigated by the SEC. She immediately secretly goes to his computer and discovers documents that prove Lou has been engaged in criminal activity regarding securities fraud. She deletes all the documents on his computer to cover up the fraud. Five minutes later, at 1:00 p.m., an FBI agent comes to her door and asks about her knowledge of the alleged crime. She says Lou never told her about anything related to his business, and she is not aware of any criminal activity on his part, nor is she aware of any documents that might show he has committed a crime. Although she had no idea about it earlier in the day before 12:00 p.m., when the FBI questioned her, she did have the knowledge and she then knowingly made materially false and misleading statements and also tried to destroy critical documents related to the investigation. Not only may Lou be guilty of securities fraud, but now Mary is guilty of the Federal False Statements crime.

Federal False Statements Sentencing

As stated above, this is a Federal Crime, and the penalties can be severe. They can include time spent in federal prison, not California state prison, as well as a fine.  

If you commit the crime, you can face up to five (5) years in federal prison.

If you commit the crime, but it also involves international or domestic terrorism, your sentence can be as long as eight (8) years in federal prison.

Fighting/Defending a Federal False Statements

It is imperative that you get an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows and understands the nuances and intricacies of the law to help in your defense.

The main defense your attorney will assert for you is as follows:

  1. Lack of “knowing and willful” intent.

Lack of “Knowing and Willful” Intent

The best defense an experienced criminal defense attorney will assert is that you did not “knowingly and willfully” make the false statements, whether those statements involve verbal statements, or material omissions, or the destruction or falsification of evidence.  

Let’s go back to our previous example of Lou and Mary. Assume Lou has an envelope of documents that evidenced his involvement in securities fraud. However, he told Mary it was an envelope of “junk mail” that should be thrown away. If she throws it away, thinking it’s actual “junk mail,” she unknowingly threw away evidence that showed Lou had committed a possible crime. If the FBI agent later asks her if she ever destroyed or threw away material evidence to this case, and she says “No” (because she had no idea she threw away actual evidence of criminal activity), she is not guilty of Federal False Statements.  

Because the prosecution has to prove the element of “knowing and willful” beyond a reasonable doubt, if the defense can poke a hole in that theory, this will help the individual charged with the crime. If there is no knowing and willful intent, the criminal defense attorney will understand the proper defenses. The criminal defense attorney will also be able to negotiate with prosecutors, and the government, to obtain a favorable plea agreement depending on the circumstances and ultimately have the charges dropped.

Finally, suppose you are questioned by a federal agent. In that case, the first call you should make is to an experienced federal criminal defense firm. These lawyers can assist you in preparing for questioning by the federal authorities and give you sound advice on how to answer some questions that can be intimidating for the interrogated witnesses.  

Some brief examples an attorney can assist you with are as follows:

  1. Advising you to provide brief and concise statements to the line of questioning: If the answer calls for a simple “yes” or “no,” then that is how the question should be answered. Often people get nervous when being questioned and disclose unnecessary information;
  2. If you do not understand a question, your attorney will advise making sure the question is phrased so that you do ultimately understand what is being asked of you;
  3. Speculation is never good. If you do not know the answer to the question, it is fine to state you lack of knowledge on the subject;
  4. An attorney can help stop the federal agent’s overly aggressive and argumentative questions and explain that you will answer questions only on certain subjects and not on others. They will help avoid the agents from intimidating you while being questioned, putting you more at ease in an often uncomfortable situation.

Hire Us

If you or a loved one has been charged with Federal False Statements, we invite you to contact us immediately for a free case review. Your freedom depends on finding an experienced defense attorney immediately. The sooner you reach out, the sooner we can work on getting your case drastically reduced or dismissed entirely.

Our experienced criminal defense attorney will be sure to fight until the end to reduce or drop your charges entirely.

Call Us for a FREE Case Review: 310-274-6529

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How to Win Your Case

We cannot stress enough that you read, understand and follow these 10 basic rules if you are criminally charged or under investigation:

  1. Don’t ever talk to the police
  2. Do not discuss your case with anyone
  3. Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential
  4. Tell police you need to contact your attorney
  5. Never consent to any search by the police
  6. If the police knock on your door, don't answer!
  7. Realize the consequences of a criminal conviction
  8. Your lawyer (not you) will contact any witnesses
  9. Information on your cell phone is evidence
  10. Early Intervention is the key

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