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Perjury is defined as making false statements while under oath. You can be accused of perjury if you take an oath in which you agree to testify, declare, depose or certify truthfully to a matter, which you do not believe to be true. You can also be accused of perjury if you swear in a declaration, certificate, verification or statement that material is true when you do not believe it to be true.
While some may consider a “lie of omission” to be in the same category as a stated lie, the language according to federal law, as well as most state statutes, does not support this expansion of culpability as far as perjury is concerned. A statement must be made, and it must be materially false or misleading to qualify as perjury.
Perjury is a legal term that protects the validity, strength and authority of the justice system. Intentionally lying under oath in court is a very serious allegation, and is met with very serious penalties if brought to the attention of the court.
Punishment for Perjury
Penalties can vary by jurisdiction but punishment for perjury can include fines, imprisonment for up to five years or both. Punishment can also be related to how your false testimony impacted the final outcome of a case. In some jurisdictions, penalties for perjury may be suspended if the untrue statements are retracted before a final ruling is made. In addition, there can be degrees of perjury based on the type of case.
State laws vary in terms of how perjury charges are handled. In some cases, misdemeanor perjury can result in up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000 if convicted. Broadly speaking, the penalty for perjury at the state level ranges anywhere from one to 10 years jail time, depending on the importance of the lie or misstatement as well as whether or not the intentional misleading of a government official was part of the proceedings. Perjury can be attached to several other charges such as implication where a defendant can be an accomplice or a material accessory to a crime which could lead to an aggravation of charges.
Felony perjury penalties can result in between one and seven years of incarceration, depending on the case.
Is Perjury a Felony?
Perjury is a felony at the federal level, and often at the state level, and is considered to be a serious offense.
However, there may be exceptions. In some states, perjury is classified as a misdemeanor. This offense is charged when an individual is alleged to have sworn falsely under oath, but without the falsehood being material to the case, or in the interests of misleading a public official.
What Is a Perjury Civil Lawsuit?
Perjury is a crime rather than a civil charge, although it is certainly possible that individuals can commit the act of perjury while under oath in a civil case. While uncommon, it is possible to be brought up on charges of perjury while making false or misleading statements within a civil case. These cases almost always involve the pursuit of charges where the government is the plaintiff in the initial case, rather than two private litigants contesting a matter in civil court.
In any case, it is rare to face civil penalties such as restitution and monetary damages rather than criminal penalties in response to perjury charges.
Do I Need an Attorney for Perjury Charges?
If you are facing perjury charges, it is highly recommended that you retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney at your earliest opportunity. A skilled legal counsel help you to navigate the particulars of the law as they pertain to your case,
A good lawyer can negotiate the ideal plea bargain for you should the facts on the table indicate a turbulent and unnecessary trial, or even suggest taking the case to court in order to fight for an acquittal if that is what appears to be in your best interests.
Without proper legal representation, your odds of facing a conviction increase. Perjury is a serious crime that can result in fines as well as a lengthy period of incarceration alongside other potential penalties. It is vitally important that you protect your future by investing in a proper legal team.
How a Perjury Attorney Can Help
An experienced perjury attorney will immediately understand the severity and complexities of this charge when you initially seek legal counsel. Penalties can vary by jurisdiction, and punishment for perjury can include fines, imprisonment or a combination of the two.
Punishment can also be measured by whether your alleged false testimony affected the final outcome of the case, the nature of the false testimony and the details of the case in which you allegedly committed perjury. In some jurisdictions, penalties for perjury may be suspended if the untrue statements are retracted before a final ruling is made. Similarly, there can be varying degrees of perjury based on the type of case involved and the influence of the alleged false testimony.
If you have been accused of perjury, don’t attempt to clear your name without proper legal representation. Consult an experienced perjury attorney who is familiar with the laws in your area and can advise you on the best possible defense.