Rod Blagojevich was the lasted in a line of high profile people to be convicted of lying to law enforcement even though juries fail to convict them of the underlying crime. In the latest case former Illinois governor Blagojevich was convicted of lying to the FBI even though a federal jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the underlying federal corruption charges. This situation is reminiscent of the Martha Stewart case in which Martha Stewart was tried and convicted of Obstruction of Justice and lying to investigators even though she was not charged or convicted of insider trading. Martha Stewart was eventually sentenced to a prison sentence in that case.

Although Obstruction of Justice, perjury or lying to the police charges are very rare in New York state Courts they are much more common in federal courts where making a false statement to federal law enforcement can lead to a federal felony charge. 18 USC 1001 which makes it a federal felony to make any materially false or misleading statement to federal agents is punishable by up to 5 years in prison. In addition, evidence of making false statements to law enforcement or otherwise mislead federal agents or obstructing justice can be used to enhance a sentence by adding two points to a persons Federal Sentence Guideline calculation under 3C1.1 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines.

Individuals who are questioned by police or federal law enforcement such as the FBI, DEA, BATFE have constitutional rights under both the United States Constitution and the New York State Constitution to remain silent and/or speak to an attorney before answering questions. This is an important constitutional right. People who are questioned by the police can often become nervous especially if they may have committed a crime or if they have not interacted with law enforcement in the past.

The bottom line is that anyone who is contacted by the police, FBI or other law enforcement should learn their rights. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can advise you of your rights and be with you through the process. Lying to law enforcement is simply not going to help and quite frankly may make the situation worse.

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