False Statement to a Financial Institution Defense — Houston, Galveston, League City, Texas
When you apply for a mortgage or any other type of bank loan, you are required to sign a seemingly infinite amount of forms and disclosures. While you may just think this is unnecessary paperwork, these are legal documents that carry certain risks if they contain false or misleading information. In fact, it is a crime under both federal and Texas laws to provide false statements to a financial institution.
We are not talking about a simple mistake or misunderstanding. A false statements charge can lead to a felony conviction. This carries the possibility of jail time, mandatory restitution to the financial institution, and debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. This is why if you are under investigation for making a false statement to a financial institution in Texas, you need to speak with an experienced Houston white collar crimes defense lawyer as soon as possible.
At the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates, we know how to handle these cases. Attorney Tad Nelson spent many years working as a criminal prosecutor himself. He will put his experience litigating in state and federal court to work for you. Prosecutors take white collar crimes like false statements just as seriously as violent offenses–in many cases they take it more seriously–so you need an aggressive defense attorney at your side.
Federal Laws Cover Statements to Most Financial Institutions
Many federal false statement charges arise under Title 18, section 1014, of the U.S. Code. This makes it a criminal offense to “knowingly” make a “false statement or report” to a number of specified agencies and organizations as part of a loan or credit application. The scope of Section 1014 is quite broad, as it covers every bank or credit union insured by the federal government, which is basically all such institutions.
A false statement under Section 1014 extends to “willfully overvaluing property,” such as land or securities, in order to influence a credit or loan decision. In other words, if you represent to the bank you have a stock portfolio worth more than you really know it to be, that is making a false statement to a financial institution.
It is critical to understand that it is a crime to make a false statement even if it did not actually result in obtaining a loan or credit. The statute only requires that the statement be made “for the purpose of influencing in any way the action of” a financial institution. The prosecution does not have to prove any actual damage to, or reliance by, the financial institution itself.
Nor does the false statement necessarily have to relate to the parties’ financial position. Many false statement cases involve failing to identify the actual party who will receive the proceeds of the loan. In other words, if you obtain a loan that is actually intended to benefit someone else–say a relative with bad credit–you could be charged with making a false statement.
Possible Felony Charges Under Texas Law
Texas has its own laws regarding “false statements to obtain property or credit.” Specifically, Section 32.32 of the Texas Penal Code states that it is an offense to “intentionally or knowingly make a materially false or misleading written statement to obtain property or credit, including a mortgage loan.” This includes providing a false or misleading appraisal of real property.
The degree of the criminal offense in Texas depends on the value of the property or amount of credit at issue. For amounts less than $2,500, a defendant only faces a misdemeanor charge. But where the value is $300,000 or more, making a false statement is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison. Put another way, if you lie on a mortgage application to buy a $350,000 house, it is possible you may spend the rest of your life in prison.
Are You Suspected of Lying to Your Mortgage Lender?
Indeed, mortgage fraud encompasses a lot of false statement cases we see here at the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates. Banks and regulators do not mess around when it comes to individuals whom they believed lied on their mortgage application. If your bank starts asking you odd or unusual questions about your application, it may be a sign that you are under investigation for making false statements.
If that is the case, you need to seek qualified legal assistance. We serve clients in the Houston, Galveston, and League City markets. Call us today at (281) 280-0100 to schedule a free consultation.
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