False Statement Charges | Chicago Federal Court | 18 USC 1001 Indictment | US Attorney Rockford

Summary of federal offenses for making a false statement

by Sami Azhari on November 2, 2010

Federal law prohibits making a false statement to the United States government. Lying to a federal agent is a criminal offense with serious penalties.

The law against making a false statement to an agent of the federal government is 18 USC 1001. The statute says it is against the law to knowingly and willfully make any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation concerning in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative or judicial branch of the United States. The sentence for this crime can be 5 years in federal prison.

In addition to the prohibition against lying to a federal agent, there are laws against making a false statement in a loan application.

Making a false statement on a loan application is a federal offense if the loan is backed by federal financing. See 18 USC 1014. For example, signing an application for a Federal Housing Authority (FHA) mortgage that contains a false statement, or knowingly overvaluing collateral assets is a crime. The penalty for this offense can be a maximum fine of $1,000,000 and 30 years in prison.

Where no specific statute can be used to prosecute a false statement, the United States Attorney will use 18 USC 1001 to prosecute the defendant. This is general, catch-all provision for false statements. It applies to a suspect who lies during questioning by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), as well as any other type of false statement. The statute provides:

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—

(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;

(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or

(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;

See 18 USC 1001.

The sentencing guidelines for the false statement offense indicate a penalty of 5 years in prison and a fine. However, where international or domestic terrorism is involved, the sentence can be 8 years imprisonment.

Additionally, where the false statement is made by a person deliberately to avoid registering as a sex offender, the penalty is also increased to 8 years prison.

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