False Papers

18 U.S.C. § 1002 - Possession of False Papers to Defraud United States

This federal law is part of a broader set of statutes to prevent fraud and deceit against the federal government. 18 U.S.C. 1002 makes it a federal offense to possess false documents with the intent to defraud.

18 U.S.C. § 1002 - Possession of False Papers to Defraud United States
It's a federal crime to possess or use false, forged, or counterfeit documents with intent to defraud.

While other statutes are charged more often, this law is crucial to help federal authorities act against illegal schemes in the early stages. Simply put, Title 18 U.S.C. 1002 makes possessing false, forged, or counterfeit documents intended to defraud the United States a federal offense. 

The term “false papers” or documents includes any fraudulent writings, entries, or recordings related to an issue within the jurisdiction of a United States department or agency. Notably, these documents don't have to be fabricated; they could be legitimate documents altered or manipulated to deceive or misrepresent.

For example, altering the numbers on a financial statement, forging a signature, or manipulating details on an official document are considered false documents. Numerous related laws exist, such as 18 U.S.C. 1001 making false statements and 18 U.S.C. 1005 fraudulent bank reports.

The penalties for federal criminal charges are typically more severe than state-level crimes. Thus, you will need a federal criminal defense lawyer with experience with federal laws and courtroom procedures.

What Does the Law Say?

The statutory language is broad and gives prosecutors a wide range of interpretations and options.

18 U.S.C. 1002 says, “Whoever, knowingly and with intent to defraud the United States or any agency thereof, possesses any false, altered, forged, or counterfeited writing or document to enable another to obtain from the United States or any agency, officer or agent thereof, any sum of money, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”

In other words, it's illegal to knowingly deceive the government to fraudulently obtain money, such as using false documentation to support a false claim.

For example, suppose you possess false documents and intend to use them to get money from the federal government. You could face criminal prosecution for violating 18 U.S.C 1002 in that case.

What are Some Examples and Additional Charges?

Some examples of 18 U.S.C. 1002 false document charges include the following:

  • Impersonating somebody using false identification papers to receive government benefits;
  • Use of forged statements to inflate income to qualify for a government loan;
  • Use of a forged social security card to get unemployment benefits.

Violations of 18 U.S.C. 1002 are often charged with additional federal crimes, such as the following:

What Are the Related Federal Laws?

18 U.S. Code Chapter 47 Fraud and False Statements has numerous federal laws that are related to Section 1002, such as the following:

  • 18 U.S.C. 1001 - Statements or entries generally;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1003 - Demands against the United States;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1004 - Certification of checks;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1005 - Bank entries, reports and transactions;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1006 - Federal credit institution entries, reports;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1007 - Federal Deposit Insurance transactions impose penalties for fraud connected with transactions insured by the FDIC;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1010 - Department of Housing and Urban Development and Federal Housing Administration transactions define fraud offenses;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1011 - Federal land bank mortgage transactions;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1012 - Department of Housing and Urban Development;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1013 - Farm loan bonds and credit bank debentures;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1014 - Loan and credit applications generally; renewals and discounts; crop insurance;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1015 - Naturalization, citizenship or alien registry;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1016 - Acknowledgment of appearance or oath;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1017 - Government seals wrongfully used and instruments sealed;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1018 - Official certificates or writings;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1019 - Certificates by consular officers;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1020 - Highway projects;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1021 - Title records;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1022 - Delivery of certificate, voucher, receipt for military property;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1023 - Insufficient delivery of money or property for naval service;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1024 - Purchase or receipt of military, naval, or veteran's property;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1025 - False pretenses on high seas and other waters;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1026 – Compromise, adjustment, or cancellation of farm indebtedness;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1027 - False statements and concealment of facts about documents required by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1028 - Fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents, authentication features, and information;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1028A - Aggravated identity theft;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1029 - Fraud and related activity in connection with access devices;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1030 - Fraud and related activity in connection with computers;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1031 - Major fraud against the United States;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1032 - Concealment of assets from conservator, receiver, or agent;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1033 - Crimes by or affecting persons engaged in the business of insurance whose activities affect interstate commerce;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1034 - Civil penalties and injunctions for violations of section 1033;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1035 - False statements relating to health care matters;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1036 - Entry by false pretenses to any real property, vessel, or aircraft of the United States or secure area of any airport or seaport;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1037 - Fraud and related activity in connection with electronic mail;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1038 - False information and hoaxes;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1039 - Fraud and related activity in connection with obtaining confidential phone records information of a covered entity;
  • 18 U.S.C. 1040 - Fraud in connection with major disaster or emergency benefits.

What Are the Penalties?

If you are convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. 1002, you will face the following penalties as guided by the federal sentencing guidelines:

  • A fine of up to $10,000, up to five years of imprisonment, or both.
  • Restitution to pay back any funds obtained through fraudulent activities.

What Are the 18 U.S.C. 1002 Defenses?

There are several strategies a federal criminal defense lawyer can use to fight alleged violations of 18 U.S.C. 1002 possession of false papers to defraud the United States, as discussed below.

Defenses for Possession of False Papers to Defraud United States
Contact us for a free case consultation.

To convict you, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you possessed false documents intending to defraud. Perhaps we can argue that you did not knowingly possess false documents.

Maybe we can argue that you did not intend to defraud the government. Perhaps you created false documents but never intended to use them.

Perhaps we can negotiate with the federal prosecutor for reduced charges or a case dismissal. Maybe we can arrange a favorable plea deal when guilt is not in doubt or the government has sufficient evidence to convict you.

If you are under investigation or indicted for possessing forged or counterfeit documents, contact us for a free case evaluation to discuss legal options. The Hedding Law Firm has offices in Los Angeles, California.

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