If law enforcement has ever confronted or questioned you, whether the encounter was confrontational or friendly, your first response was probably anxiety. When the questions start coming, your first instinct could involve protecting yourself and your loved ones.

You may even feel compelled to lie to extend this protection. However, it is never a good idea to lie to law enforcement.

Lying is a federal offense

Lying to a federal agent violates federal law. Lies include false statements or hiding information that may pertain to the case. You cannot provide fraudulent statements, whether oral or written, or misrepresent anyone or thing.

You can commit fraud without even lying. For example, you may withhold documents that are material to the case. Finally, if you knowingly provide false documents, you have lied to the agent.

May lead to incarceration and/or fines

Lying to a federal agent is a federal felony. If convicted, you may spend up to eight years in prison. In fact, many individuals are actually incarcerated for lying rather than other criminal offenses.

As a felon, you will also lose some of your rights, such as the right to own a firearm or vote. Your criminal history can also make it difficult to find gainful employment, get an education or obtain housing.

Protect yourself during questioning, and learn your rights. You can refuse to answer questions, even if the case is not about you, and avoid knowingly making false statements about anything, especially if the subject is important to the investigation.