Miami Perjury & False Statements Attorney
It may seem hard to believe, but making a false statement to a federal officer can be prosecuted as a crime that carries a penalty of up to five years in prison. This can happen whether you have been arrested or are merely being questioned, even as a witness, and the misstatement does not even have to directly relate to criminal activity. Federal agents are well aware of this law and love to catch an individual in a lie or contradiction, not so much to prosecute them for the offense, but rather to force cooperation or a confession on some other crime they are investigating. The Tony Moss Firm, L.L.C. looks out for you and will do its best to protect your rights and make sure you are not mistreated or taken advantage of at the hands of law enforcement.
The text of the federal statute – 18 U.S.C. 1621 – begins as follows:
- having taken an oath before a competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any case in which a law of the United States authorizes an oath to be administered, that he will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly, or that any written testimony, declaration, deposition, or certificate by him subscribed, is true, willfully and contrary to such oath states or subscribes any material matter which he does not believe to be true; or
- in any declaration, certificate, verification, or statement under penalty of perjury as permitted under section 1746 of title 28, United States Code, willfully subscribes as true any material matter which he does not believe to be true;
is guilty of perjury and shall, except as otherwise expressly provided by law, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. This section is applicable whether the statement or subscription is made within or without the United States.
Perjury: Lying to a Federal Officer
The text of the federal statute – 18 U.S.C. 1001 – begins as follows:
§ 1001. Statements or entries generally
(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—
- falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
- makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
- makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;
shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves
international or domestic terrorism…imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both. If the matter relates to [certain sex offenses], then the term of imprisonment imposed under this section shall be not more than 8 years.
As you can see, the scope of this law is incredibly broad. In addition, law enforcement officers are expertly trained in investigation and interrogation techniques to get you to incriminate yourself. Even if they can just get you to contradict an innocent statement you made earlier, such as giving a different date or time when describing your whereabouts, they can use this contradiction to call your credibility and veracity into question. Now that the police and prosecutors have a potential charge of lying to a federal officer, whether such a charge could actually stick or not, they have a tremendous amount of leverage to apply against you and get you to cooperate by giving more testimony or pleading guilty to some other offense.
Is there any way to protect yourself from getting caught in this situation? Of course, the best course of action is to decline to speak with law enforcement without your lawyer present. This is important regardless of whether you have been arrested, are “in custody,” have been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury, or have merely been approached by police officers or federal agents who want to question you. In any of these situations, statements you make may be used against you, and false statements may be prosecuted as a separate offense.
Get Help with Police Investigations and Questioning
If law enforcement officers ask to speak with you, politely but firmly decline to talk until you have spoken with your lawyer first. This is your right. If you do not already have a lawyer, contact the Tony Moss Firm, L.L.C. to speak with an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney who can advise on how best to proceed.