According to 18 USC Section 1001 it is illegal to knowingly and willfully making any materially fictitious, false, or fraudulent statement or representation in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, judicial and legislative branch of the United States.
18 USC Section 100, proscribes three types of illegal conduct:
- Concealing, falsifying, or covering up of a material fact by any scheme, trick, or device
- Making a fraudulent statement or representation or false fictitious
- Using or making a false writing or document.
Elements of Crime
The government must be able to establish the following five elements beyond a reasonable doubt for convicting the defendant under 18 USC 1001.
- Defendant used or made a materially fictions false, or fraudulent statement, representation, or document
- Defendant made or used it knowingly and willfully
- The statement, document or representation was made regarding a matter within the US government’s jurisdiction
Representation and Statement
In the context of 18 USC 1001 a statement, can be either written or oral. The representation or statement is not required to be legally mandated or be rendered under oath to violate 18 USC Section 1001. It also doesn’t have to be received by the government or made directly to the government.
In the context of 18 USC Section 1001 charge, willfulness means that the defendant intentionally and voluntarily provided facts that were incorrect. Untrue statements or incorrect facts provided result of misunderstanding, confusion, honest mistakes, or faulty recollection don’t rise to the level of willfulness.
Prosecution for a violation of 18 USC Section 1001 requires proof of materiality.
The statement or representation must have a tendency to influence, or be capable of influencing the decision making body to which it is addressed. There is no requirement to prove that the decision maker body was in fact influenced or diverted.
Jurisdictional element means that the government must establish that the false statement or representation was made in regard to a matter within the US government’s jurisdiction.
Courts have given broad interpretation to “jurisdiction” in this context to mean any area where the government has power to act or enforce regulations. Jurisdiction includes the healthcare, economy, education, and many other areas.
Defenses to 18 USC Section 1001 Charges
- Defendant didn’t know the statement was false.
It is a valid defense if the defendant made a false statement because of an honest mistake, confusion, or a simple misunderstanding.
- Defendant’s statement was not material.
The defense challenges whether a statement or representation is relevant or important enough for being considered material to a federal matter. A defense also applies when the false statement is not made within the government’s jurisdiction or to a government agent.
The penalties for violation 18 USC Section 1001
- Up to 5 years in federal prison
- In case the crime involves international or domestic terrorism, human trafficking, or certain sex offenses, the defendant can receive up to 8 years in federal prison.
- A fine