You have the right to remain silent whether you are silent to a police officer or a federal agent. With a federal agent, in some cases, you may especially want to be careful what you say because you could be prosecuted under Title 18, Section 1001. If you believe that you are under investigation by federal agents, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. If convicted of this crime, you might be fined and face up to five years in prison.
The Requirements for a Prosecution Under Title 18
Federal agents cannot simply arrest you for saying something that is not true. You must knowingly lie to a federal agent. You must make a statement that is fraudulent, fictitious, or materially false. This false statement can be written or made verbally. This is not only illegal if you are under investigation but if you are engaged in any interaction with federal law enforcement agents. Therefore, when in doubt, make sure to contact a criminal defense attorney before interacting with a federal agent of the US government.
If you are facing prosecution for lying to a federal agent, your criminal defense attorney might argue that your false statement was not "material." This means that the statement did not influence a decision-making process in the federal government. For example, if you lie about where you bought your running shoes, this would not be considered material because it is not relevant to the federal government.
In the past, you were allowed an exception to the rule where you could deny that you were engaged in wrong-doing. However, this is no longer considered an acceptable excuse due to later court rulings and you may face five years in prison for normal cases and up to eight years if you lie to aid terrorists.
You do not have to know that lying to the US government was a crime and you also do not have to know that the act of lying falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government to be convicted. The agents do not have to warn you before they begin the conversation and these conversations often occur in a friendly manner. For this reason, legal counsel is essential so you know whether you are placing yourself at risk of prosecution.
In some cases, you might argue that you were interrogated illegally. You have the right to remain silent and if the agents take any actions to force you to break your silence, this may lead to your charges being dropped out. Avoid making statements until you have received legal advice from a criminal defense attorney.Share
30 June 2020
When I started my first small business, I had no idea how much I really didn’t know. I was fully prepared to deal with customers, sell product and even handle complaints and returns. What I wasn’t aware of was that there is so much more to it. I was lacking the legal expertise to protect the company and myself. I wanted others to benefit from my experience, mistakes and lessons learned, so I started this blog. From employment law to the legal business contracts you’ll have to sign when you form partnerships, business law is complex. I hope that the information here will help you to be better prepared when you start your business so that you’ll know when you need to call an attorney and when you can handle things yourself.