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False Statements and False Claims

NCJ Number
American Criminal Law Review Volume: 42 Issue: 2 Dated: Spring 2005 Pages: 427-461
Jeremy Baker; Rebecca Young
Date Published
35 pages
This article reviews the statutes governing the criminal violations of false statements and false claims.
Two statutes within the United States Code criminalize the making of false statements or claims upon, against, or to any department or agency of the United States Government. One additional statute provides for the civil prosecution of false claims. Prosecutors thus have three statutes from which to choose from when prosecuting cases of fraud. The focus of this article is on describing each of these statutes in turn: Sections 287 and 1001 of Title 18 of the United States Code and Sections 3729-3733 of Title 31 of the United States Code. Section 1001 is described as broad and frequently used to prosecute a wide variety of crimes involving the making of false statements to the United States Government. Elements of offenses charged under Section 1001 are described and include statements of concealments, falsity, materiality, intent, and jurisdiction. Successful defenses to Section 1001 prosecutions are reviewed and are typically based on “exculpatory no” and “ambiguity” doctrines. Prosecutions under Section 287 must prove three elements: presentation of a claim, false or fraudulent claims, and knowledge. Defenses to charges under Section 287 fall into two categories: intent-based defenses and double jeopardy claims; both have been largely unsuccessful. Finally, civil prosecutions under Sections 3729-3733 are described as similar to criminal prosecutions in terms of elements that must be proven. Local governments are defined as “persons” amenable to file suit under the civil statute and defendants face substantial and punitive financial damages in addition to penalties. Footnotes


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