Blog

Lying to a Federal Agent During an Investigation is a Serious Crime

Posted by Neil Shouse | Feb 06, 2016 | 0 Comments

Lying_20to_20a_20federal_20agent_20during_20an_20investigation_20is_20a_20serious_20crime

If you lie to an agent from the FBI, DEA, or any other federal agency while they are conducting a criminal investigation, you are a committing a serious federal crime.

You definitely have a right to remain silent or consult with an attorney when speaking with federal agents or investigators. However, you do not have a right to lie to them.

18 U.S. Code § 1001 makes it is a federal offense to:

  • knowingly and willfully;
  • make any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation; or
  • make or use any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement;
  • in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative or judicial branch of the United States.

That broad language of that last clause means that the statute applies not only to federal investigations but almost any interaction with an agent of the federal government.

The false statement must be "material" in order to be considered a violation of the law. A statement is “material” if it has the "natural tendency to influence or [is] capable of influencing, the decision of the decision-making body to which it is addressed." United States v. Gaudin, 515 U.S. 506, 510 (1995). Lying about what you had for lunch would likely not count as “material.” Lying about the last time you spoke with the individual under investigation likely would.

For a long time, it was argued that there was an exception to criminal liability under 18 U.S.C. §1001 for a false statement that consisted of the mere denial of wrongdoing, the so-called "exculpatory no.''

However, the United States Supreme Court rejected that argument in 1998, citing the broad language of the statute.

Penalties

If you lie to a federal agent and are convicted for a violation of 18 U.S. C. § 1001, you can be fined and sentenced to federal prison for up to five years. If, however, your lie involved international or domestic terrorism, you could be sentenced to up to 8 years in federal prison.

Lying to federal agents is a serious offense that requires immediate legal representation. If you've been charged with lying to a federal agent, please contact one of our experienced federal criminal defense attorneys today.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).

Comments

There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Free attorney consultations...

Our attorneys want to hear your side of the story. Contact us 24/7 to schedule a FREE consultation with a criminal defense lawyer. We may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed altogether. And if necessary, we will champion your case all the way to trial.

Regain peace of mind...

Our defense attorneys understand that being accused of a crime is one of the most difficult times of your life. Rely on us to zealously and discreetly protect your rights and to fight for the most favorable resolution possible.

Office Locations

Shouse Law Group has multiple locations all across California and Nevada. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

To contact us, please select your state:

Call us 24/7 (855) 396-0370