If you become the target of a federal criminal investigation, it's important to understand the differences between federal law and Tennessee Law. One of those differences is the consequences of lying.
While it's never advisable to speak to law enforcements officers without legal advice, speaking to federal officer is especially dangerous. Just ask Martha Stewart. When she was contacted by federal investigators over insider trading allegations, she went to prison not for insider trading but for making false statements to a federal officer.
In the federal system, you can be charged with a crime for "knowingly and willfully" making false or fraudulent statements to a federal officer, or for concealing information. This is known as a section 1001 crime. In some cases, even a simple denial could result in federal criminal charges.
Section 1001 prosecutions are common in white-collar crimes. Examples of white-collar crimes include insider trading, mortgage fraud and Medicare fraud. Given the complexity of federal laws, you could be charged with a crime for an activity you thought was legal. To be convicted of making false statements to a federal officer, prosecutors must show not only that your statement was false, but that you knew your statement was unlawful.
The best way to avoid prison is to not say anything to a federal officer without legal counsel. The officer may act like he or she is simply trying to clear up a misunderstanding. However, by the time a federal officer questions you, he or she has already decided to make you a target. Nothing you can say will change that. By attempting to clear yourself, you may inadvertently give the officers the information they need to charge you with a crime. If you make false statements to the officer, you could be charged with a section 1001 crime even if you are innocent of the underlying charges.
To protect yourself, seek legal advice from an attorney who regularly defends people accused of federal crimes. The law firm of Hindman & Associates defends clients charged with white-collar and federal crimes in the Knoxville area.