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Just Say "No" Not Protected If a Lie
Description Defendant's claim that he could not be convicted for answering "no" to questions if he had engaged in illegal activites not protected by the "spirit" of the Fifth Amendment.
Topic Criminal Law
Key Words False Statements, Fifth Amendment
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Brogan falsely answered "no" when IRS and Department of Labor agents asked if he had received cash or gifts from a company whose employees were represented by the union in which he was an officer. Brogan was convicted on federal bribery charges and for making a false statement within the jurisdiction of a federal agency. He appealed, contending that false statements to federal investigators does not include mere denials or wrongdoing, the so-called "exculpatory no."
Court of Appeals Decision Affirmed. There is no exception to federal criminal liability for a false statement consisting of an "exculpatory no." Any false statement "of whatever kind" is in violation of the law. Brogan's assertion that the law violated "the spirit" of the Fifth Amendment is rejected because the Fifth Amendment does not confer a privilege to lie.
Citation Brogan v. U.S., 118 S.Ct. 805 (1998)

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