If you are facing accusations of lying to a government official, you may understandably be worried about the potential consequences. This type of crime is far from a minor infraction, as it is a felony that can lead to prison time in the event of a conviction.
Fortunately, just because you face a charge of lying to federal officials in New York does not mean you are automatically guilty. Prosecutors have to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, a standard that exists in an effort to protect innocent individuals from facing punishment for crimes they did not commit.
The federal law regarding false statements
The U.S. Code makes it illegal for you to make false statements to government officials, including:
- Knowingly using documents that contain fictitious information.
- Making fraudulent statements.
- Covering up a truth by using a particular device, trick or scheme.
This crime is not taken lightly in the federal court system because it is akin to perjury, or telling a lie in court. Both of these crimes can undermine the government's integrity and thus negatively impact its ability to function properly.
The statute on lying to the government can be invoked in a number of scenarios, including during a legislative hearing or an interview with officials from the FDA. It can also come into play during terrorist plot investigations and administrative matters.
Is a conviction in my future?
Before you can face a conviction for not making truthful statements to the government, the federal prosecution has to be able to prove several elements, including the following:
- You lied or used written documents featuring a lie during a government department- or agency-related procedure, such as an interview or hearing associated with FBI officials or Congress.
- You acted intentionally.
- The statement you made was relevant to the government department's or agency's business and could influence its activities or decisions.
What potential consequences could you face?
If convicted of lying to government officials, you can expect to spend a maximum of five years behind bars along with a fine as high as $250,000. However, if terrorism is involved in your offense, you can anticipate spending eight years behind bars.
An experienced attorney will carefully scrutinize the evidence that the federal prosecution plans to present to support the charges against you. Your attorney can also determine the best possible criminal defense strategy for your particular circumstances, which could drastically increase your odds of achieving the best possible outcome for your case.