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Defending People Charged With Making a False Statement in New York

Lying is not a crime outside of certain, exceptional circumstances. Under the wrong circumstances, however, making a false statement can have significant legal consequences. Lying to law enforcement, lying under oath during a judicial proceeding, or making a false statement in other official contexts can result in criminal prosecution, fines, and even jail time.

If you have been charged with or arrested for a false statement offense, do not take the charges lightly. A false statement conviction can have life-altering effects on your ability to get a professional license, your immigration status, your ability to get a loan, and other matters. Call an experienced New York false statement defense lawyer at Dupée & Monroe to help you build the strongest defense and fight to have the charges reduced or dropped entirely.

New York Penal Law Article 210: Perjury and False Statements

There are many contexts in which it is unlawful to make a false statement or representation. Article 210 of the New York Penal Law governs perjury and related offenses. Broadly, perjury refers to making false statements under oath. Making a false statement in an official context may be chargeable as perjury as well as other specific crimes, such as filing a false statement.

There are three degrees of perjury:

  • Third Degree. Perjury in the Third Degree occurs when a person “swears falsely.” Third-degree perjury is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail.
  • Second Degree. Perjury in the Second Degree occurs when a person makes a false written statement under oath, the statement was material to the matter, and the falsehood was made in order to mislead a public official. Second-degree perjury is a class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.
  • First Degree. Perjury in the First Degree occurs when a person makes a false material statement as testimony in an official proceeding. First-degree perjury is a class D felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Filing a False Statement in New York

In New York, one of the more commonly charged crimes is filing a false written statement. Penal Law § 210.45 prohibits intentionally making a false statement in a written instrument that carries notice that making false statements therein are unlawful (i.e., an official form that requires the filer to be truthful). For example, filing a false criminal complaint is chargeable under § 210.45.

Making a false written statement is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail in addition to probation and fines.

Federal False Statements

Federal law also prohibits making false statements in an official context. Under 18 U.S.C. § 1001, a defendant may be charged with a felony if, in the context of any official federal matter, they knowingly and willfully:

  • Falsify or conceal any material fact;
  • Make any materially false or fraudulent statement or representation; or
  • Make or use any writing they know to contain a false or fraudulent statement or entry.

Section 1001 specifically excludes statements made by a party or their attorney to the court in a judicial proceeding. For matters involving the legislative branch, the statute only applies to administrative proceedings and Congressional investigations.

Outside of those limitations, the charges can be severe. A defendant may be charged under § 1001 after making a false statement to any federal law enforcement agency, such as the FBI, DOJ, SEC, DEA, IRS, or U.S. Attorney’s Office. Section 1001 does not require the defendant to have been under oath at the time. A false statement to an officer made during even informal questioning in connection with “any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch” is chargeable under § 1001.

Making a false statement to a federal officer is a felony offense, punishable by up to five years in prison in most cases, or by up to eight years if the matter involved terrorism, sex trafficking, or certain other serious crimes.

Defending Against False Statement Charges

Perjury and other false statement crimes require that the defendant made the writing or statement while knowing the statement to be false. One of the biggest hurdles for the prosecution is proving that the defendant actually knew the statement was false. Making an innocent mistake or misremembering a situation is not punishable as a crime. The information provided typically must be material, or important to the matter; a minor misstatement will not typically be charged. Moreover, if the information turns out to be true, of course, the defendant cannot be convicted. Talk to a seasoned New York false statements defense attorney to explore your options for fighting false statement charges.

For Help Fighting Your Perjury or False Statement Charges, Call Our Hudson Valley Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you have been arrested and charged with making a false statement under New York state or federal law, contact Dupée & Monroe, P.C., in Goshen. We represent clients charged with perjury, making false statements, and other serious offenses in Orange County and throughout the Hudson Valley.

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