False Statements in New Jersey

New Jersey Criminal Lawyers Schwartz Posnock

Experienced NJ criminal lawyers who understand false statements.

Except, perhaps, for the federal conspiracy and mail fraud statutes, no congressional criminal enactment has proven a more flexible and effective weapon for federal prosecutors than the general false statements statute (18 U.S.C. § 1001).

Because Congress intended the statue to “protect the authorized functions of government departments and agencies,” and the authorized functions of government departments and agencies typically depend on information from the private sector, § 1001 serves a critical purpose.

Section 1001 is an effective workhorse for federal prosecutors because, as the courts have construed it and as explained below, it does not require the government to prove it relied on, or was even aware of, the falsehood, or that the declarant knew the federal government was involved, or that the statement was made under oath.

Most § 1001 prosecutions are based on simple, direct statements that are not true. Almost any kind of statement qualifies. Although many § 1001 cases involve written statements – such as bills, vouchers, customs declarations, and the like – § 1001 does not require a writing. Oral statements, even unsworn oral statements, to federal employees and officials have resulted in prosecutions and convictions for years.

The core of a § 1001 violation is that the statement was false, and in most 1001 cases, the factual assertion is clear and unambiguous, and its falsity easily provable – particularly when the charges involve falsehoods on tax returns, customs declarations, and reimbursement vouchers.

A person charged with false statements can, however, defend the charges based on truth or falsity issue when the § 1001 statement is ambiguous. Ambiguity is not, per se, a defense, but a statement’s ambiguity in effect obliges the government to negate any reasonable interpretation that would make the statement true.

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