When you or anyone else is required to make a statement to the court during a trial or another legal matter, it is generally under oath, which means you are required to only speak the truth. Deliberately providing false information or deliberately concealing factual information while under oath amounts to the crime of perjury, and a conviction can lead to serious penalties and fines. If you are facing a perjury charge – or any other criminal charge – it is in your best interest to work closely with an experienced Waco criminal attorney.
The charge of perjury refers to making false statements, but it is about much more than simply lying about the matter at hand. To reach the level of perjury, there are specific elements that must be present, including:
The person must have either been under oath – such as when someone is questioned or when someone testifies in court – or have been sworn to speak honestly in another legal context.
The person must have presented the misinformation in question in a manner that was intended to deceive, mislead, or confuse the court.
The person must have actually submitted a statement. Refusing to make a statement will not suffice for a charge of perjury, but it could lead to contempt charges.
The misinformation must directly affect the case or matter at hand (lying about irrelevant matters that make no material difference in the case will not suffice for a charge of perjury).
In sum, perjury refers to willful lies that are made while under oath and that are intended to trick, confuse, or deceive the court, prosecution, and/or jury.
Fine and Penalties
A conviction for the crime of perjury can lead to serious fines and penalties that are generally predicated on the seriousness of the matter. For example, if a capital murder case hinged on the untruthful statements involved, it could lead to serious prison time. Further, there are certain professions, such as law enforcement, in which a perjury conviction can lead to loss of professional licensure.
If you are facing a perjury charge, your defense will likely focus on demonstrating that you did not intentionally mislead the court. This strategy can hinge on providing evidence that you thought your statements were true at the time you made them or that your statements or submissions were a mistake of fact (such as if you were confused or had been misled regarding the truth of the matter) at the time.