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Lying to federal government may lead to time behind bars

An arrest for making a false statement to a police officer may understandably be terrifying and even frustrating. However, just because authorities have accused you of lying to a federal agent does not mean you are automatically guilty in the eyes of Lady Justice.

Making a false statement to a federal official is a criminal act against the federal government. It is similar to perjury -- the crime of lying under oath. However, if you face this type of criminal charge, the government must prove its allegation against you before you can face a conviction in New York.

What does the law say about making false statements?

According to the law, you can make a false statement to a government official in various ways as follows:

  • You falsify, conceal or cover up a material fact via a device, trick or scheme.
  • You make materially false, fraudulent or fictitious statements or representations.
  • You make or use false documents or writing, knowing that this information contains materially fraudulent, false or fictitious entries or statements.

The reason the government criminalizes lying to government officials is because it essentially interferes with justice system procedures. This is why lying to such officials is a process offense.

What are some examples of making false statements to authorities?

Perhaps authorities initially suspect that you have committed a white-collar crime. You may end up never facing a charge for the crime of insider trading. However, you might still face a charge and ultimately a conviction for lying to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation about suspicious stock trades.

In addition, you may face a charge of making a false statement to officials if you do this during a Senate confirmation hearing or with regard to terrorist plot investigations. The law regarding false statements is not applicable to judicial proceedings, however.

Your rights following an accusation of making false statements

Those who receive convictions for lying to the federal government can expect to spend as many as five years in prison and pay a fine as high as $250,000. However, if officials claim that you have made false statements, you have the right to fight this allegation vigorously at trial. An attorney will scrutinize the evidence that the prosecution intends to present to support the charge. Your attorney's ultimate goal will be to pursue the most favorable outcome for you considering your case's circumstances.

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