What is Perjury?
The definition of perjury is purposely giving false information while under oath. This can include:
- When testifying in court
- When being deposed
- In a signed affidavit
- In a signed declaration
- In a DL 44 drivers license application at the DMV
- In a signed certificate
In order to be guilty of this crime the following elements must be proven true:
- You made a willful and deliberate statement.
- You knew that the statement was false.
- You were under oath at the time the statement was made.
- The statement was or related to a material fact.
Penalties for Perjury
This crime is a felony so the penalties can be harsh. The penalties for this crime include:
- Felony probation with up to one year in a county jail, or
- Two, three, or four years in a county jail.
When the judge decides the punishment, he or she will most likely consider your past criminal history and if the perjury committed caused anyone harm, such as an innocent person being convicted. You also face a fine of up to $10,000.
Legal Defenses for Perjury
There are a good amount of successful legal defenses for this crime. Here are some of the most common legal defenses.
There was a mistake or a misunderstanding
Even if you stated a false statement, you cannot be guilty if you honestly or justifiably believed that the statement was true. Under this circumstance, you did not “willfully” give false information under oath.
There was insufficient evidence
Someone else’s testimony conflicting with yours is not enough evidence for a perjury conviction. The prosecutor must come up with more evidence to prove that your statement was false. But if you have a conflicting testimony, such as saying you did something but there is physical evidence to prove otherwise, it is enough for the jury to convict you of perjury.
You recanted your statement quickly
If you quickly correct yourself after making a false statement, it may help prove that you didn’t intentionally give false information.
You didn’t commit the crime
This wouldn’t work if you made a verbal statement in court, but it could work for written statements. With identity theft so common, it’s possible for someone to get a hold of your information and sign your name on documents that insinuate that you committed perjury.
It was something other than perjury
If you made a false report of a kidnapping, that isn’t perjury because you weren’t under oath. While the penalty for that crime is harsh, it is a misdemeanor instead of a felony.