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Proven Defense In Federal False Statements Offense Charges

One of the most potent weapons that federal prosecutors have at their disposal is Title 18 U.S.C. Section 1001, a criminal statute aimed at penalizing those who knowingly and willfully make false or misleading statements or conceal information from the government and, specifically, federal investigators. However, the law does not criminally punish those who give investigators false or misleading information mistakenly or in good faith. Those convicted under Title 18 U.S.C. Section 1001 include Martha Stewart, Michael Flynn, Jeffrey Skilling and Bernie Madoff.

I am Peter Katz, and, as an attorney with a practice focused on white collar criminal defense, I have significant experience helping clients who are embroiled in these situations. I offer a free consultation to help you better understand the scope of your issue, your options and the help I can offer. Call 609-900-2648 to arrange an appointment.

What Is A ‘False Statement?’

While the law is silent about what constitutes a “false statement,” it can come in various forms, including the following:

  • The statement does not have to be written; it can also be an oral statement.
  • A false statement is usually a material omission or misrepresentation. Something is “material” when it helped the accused either carry out their criminal activity or trick or deceive a target of the fraud into believing the accused. For example, telling the FBI that you are 45 years old when you are really 50 is probably not material; however, lying about your participation in an event probably is material.

Under Title 18 U.S.C. Section 1001, one who makes a false statement in any matter within the control of the executive, legislative or judicial branches faces criminal liability. This means that anytime you talk with the FBI, Department of Justice (DOJ), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or Secret Service, you are subject to these false statement laws.

What Is The Difference Between ‘Willfully’ And ‘Knowingly?’

Despite the criminal law not giving an explicit definition of “willfully,” courts have found it to mean something that is done voluntarily and intentionally with specific intent. Similarly, “knowingly” merely requires that the defendant acted with knowledge of the falsity.

False Statements Relating To Health Care Matters

Similar to Title 18 U.S.C. Section 1001, this provision makes it a crime for one to knowingly and willfully make a false statement in any matter involving a health care benefit program. These programs include Medicare and Medicaid, Tricare and Veterans Administration (VA) benefits. Thus, one can potentially run into criminal liability under this provision if they misrepresent their age, health or eligibility for the program. If convicted, you can face imprisonment of up to five years, a fine or both.

Understanding Perjury In A General Sense

This statute makes it a crime for anyone to willfully make false statements while under oath before a federal tribunal or officer. One need not be testifying in a courtroom to face a perjury charge; alternatively, the statute applies to those who make false statements to federal agents. Those convicted of perjury under Title 18 U.S.C. Section 1621 face upward of five years in federal prison.

It is also important to mention Title 18 U.S.C. Section 1623, a similar perjury statute. There are two significant differences between Sections 1621 and 1623. The latter applies to false statements before a grand jury or court. Instead of a willfulness standard, the rule requires the defendant to “knowingly” make a false statement. Upon being convicted of Title 18 U.S.C. Section 1623, one faces a prison term of up to five years, a fine or both.

False And Fictitious Claims

While on the topic of federal false statement offenses, it is important to highlight Title 18 U.S.C. Section 287 (false, fictitious or fraudulent claims) because it serves as an additional charge that federal prosecutors can bring against those looking to do business with the government or seek benefits.

Title 18 U.S.C. Section 287 makes it a federal crime for one who knowingly submits false claims to the government. Such an offense carries with it a possible five-year term of imprisonment and a fine. Over time, the act’s reach has broadened to more than just contracts for the sale of goods. Nowadays, it also applies to applications for government benefits, such as Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance.

Elements Of The False Claims Statute

For federal prosecutors to convict someone of violating Title 18 U.S.C. Section 287, they must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant:

  1. Made or presented a false, fictitious or fraudulent claim to a department of the United States
  2. Knew such claim was false, fictitious or fraudulent
  3. Did so with the specific intent to violate the law or with a consciousness that what they were doing was wrong

Circuit courts are split over whether Title 18 U.S.C. Section 287 requires the statement or claim to be “material.” Nevertheless, it is helpful to define what “material” means. Something is “material” when it helped the accused either carry out their criminal activity or trick or deceive a target of the fraud into believing the accused. It is essential to note that the prosecutors don’t have to show that the defendant intended to defraud. There is also debate over whether the government has to prove intent. Conspiracy charges may also be brought forth in these cases.

Importance Of Legal Counsel

A perjury conviction comes with significant consequences. Not only does one run the risk of spending time in federal prison and having to pay steep penalties, but the stigma of being deemed a “convicted felon” affects one’s livelihood for years to come. Hence, it is essential to have legal counsel by your side before speaking with an investigator, court or other governmental body. An experienced attorney can help guide you through the process, protect your rights and ensure that your answers are truthful.

Get The Help You Need To Protect Yourself

No matter what stage of the criminal process you find yourself in – you’ve received a subpoena or search warrant or you’re a target of an investigation – you must have legal representation. I have helped clients attain effective defense in many white collar charges.

As a former federal and state prosecutor, I know the inner workings of the criminal justice system. I will fight for you and work tirelessly to clear your name. Call the Law Offices of Peter Katz at 609-900-2648 or contact me online to begin preparing your defense today. I serve clients in New York and New Jersey.