Federal Criminal Defense - False Statements – New Jersey District

The False Statement Accountability Act makes it a federal crime to provide false statements to or conceal information from a federal investigator. It also prohibits submitting false or forged documents to government agencies and providing false testimony to Congress. The law covers all agencies within the three branches of government, including the FBI, the IRS, the postal service, and other federal agencies.

If you knowingly provide false statements to federal officials, whether in writing or orally, you can be charged with a felony. Penalties can include prison time and fines, along with other serious repercussions to your reputation and future.

If you are under investigation for providing false statements to a federal official or agency, or you have already been indicted, you need to consult with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney right away. A lawyer can evaluate your case and advise you of your options while helping you develop an effective defense.

What Does It Mean to Provide False Statements?

The government defines false statements as “knowingly and willfully” doing any of the following:

  • Falsifying, concealing, or covering up a material fact through trickery or some other device or scheme
  • Making any oral statements or testimony that is materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent
  • Making materially false claims in writing or presenting false information in a document

The statute uses the term “material” to refer to draw a distinction between substantial misleading information and unimportant errors that really have no bearing on the outcome. In other words, the government will likely not prosecute for insignificant factual errors or small, so-called “honest mistakes.”

False Statement Exceptions

Section 1001 of the U.S. Code (18 U.S.C. § 1001) is the federal statute that governs this specific area, and it makes two important exceptions to providing false statements. One is that this particular statute does not apply “to a party to a judicial proceeding,” or their attorney.

This does not mean you can't get in trouble for presenting false information in a judicial proceeding, but crimes such as perjury, for instance, are handled in different sections of the U.S. Code.

Another important exception has to do with Congress or agencies within the government's legislative branch. Section 1001 applies only to “administrative matters,” such as claims for payment, the procurement of property or services, employment practices, and other matters. It also includes investigations conducted by congressional or senatorial committees and subcommittees. Therefore, you can be charged and prosecuted for making false statements during a congressional hearing.

Penalties for False Statements

Any charge related to making a false statement or violating any term of Section 1001 is a felony, and you could receive up to five years in prison along with fines. You may also receive enhanced penalties if the offense was in connection to other felonies, such as domestic or international terrorism, human trafficking, and certain sex crimes. The maximum enhanced sentence is eight years in federal prison, along with fines.

False Statement Examples

Like many federal laws, crimes involving false statements are broadly defined, and any number of circumstances can lead to charges. Some examples include:

  • Providing false or misleading information to the FBI or federal investigators regarding a crime
  • Providing false information to the IRS, such as misrepresenting your income
  • Making false statements on loan or mortgage applications

Additionally, you can receive charges if you provide false information to defraud the government or unlawfully influence legislation. Consider the following:

Mr. Doe owns a company in a highly regulated industry. He is also a witness in an administrative proceeding regarding new legislation that will greatly benefit his business if it is passed. Mr. Doe knows he will be called to testify, and he understands what committee members will ask him about. Mr. Doe creates a false ledger to present as an exhibit that he hopes will sway the legislation to his favor, and he then lies under oath about the veracity of the information. He has actually committed two crimes by lying to the government under oath and presenting false documents to influence legislation for his own benefit or financial gain.

An important note is that you do not have to provide false testimony under oath to be charged and prosecuted for giving false information. Charges can result if you provide false information to any federal government officer or agency related to a federal matter or if you submit fraudulent documents to a government agency.

Defenses for False Bail

Sometimes, federal criminal investigators will threaten someone with a potential charge of providing false statements to compel the person to provide information or cooperate with the government investigation. However, prosecutors will have to prove the following to convict you of providing false statements:

  • Your statement contained materially false or fraudulent information.
  • You knowingly and willfully made a materially false statement.
  • The statement fell under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

Since prosecutors have the burden to prove you acted intentionally, you may have defense options if you can show you did not know the information was false. You may also base your defense on any of the following:

  • The information was not material.
  • The matter did not fall under federal jurisdiction.
  • The interrogation was unlawful or infringed upon your constitutional rights.

In many cases, your attorney may intervene before you are officially charged or before court proceedings begin to advocate on your behalf and negotiate a favorable outcome for you. Even if your attorney cannot successfully negotiate with federal prosecutors and your case does go to trial, the government will have to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Get Help From an Experienced Federal Defense Attorney

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has successfully represented many people facing charges of providing false statements to the federal government. He can assess your situation, advise you of your rights and options, and help you build a solid defense. Call the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team at 888-535-3686 or fill out our contact form to request a confidential consultation.

​​​Contact The Lento Law Firm Today

When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

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