If you have been put under oath by a grand jury or in court, or even by a federal agency at a hearing, and it can be proven that you lied during that time, you could eventually be charged with a crime called perjury. As with charges of conspiracy, if it is found that you have lied to the government while under oath in an effort to cover up a separate crime, you may be charged with both perjury and the crime that you attempted to cover up. Some major businessmen in Connecticut have been charged with this, as well as, “Lying to a federal official.” It is our suggestion that you speak with a federal official only with an attorney protecting you.
You’ve probably seen a crime show where a witness or someone testifying in court places their right hand on a Bible. They swear to tell the truth to the best of their ability. When a person is “sworn in” in this way, or when they promise to tell the truth to a government official, and this person proceeds to lie, they can be charged with perjury.
This crime is considered a state offense and a federal offense. Each state has slightly different legislature on what constitutes perjury and how it should be dealt with, but there is also a federal law that applies to the federal courts and federal government. If you are charged with federal perjury, this is considered a felony, and you can face a prison sentence of up to five years for this offense. Many states also consider perjury to be a felony. For committing this crime at the state level, you can also face a prison sentence.
Perjury can be committed in the following environments:
- A court of law.
- A legal situation where the accused has promised to tell the truth.
- A deposition.
- A signed affidavit.
- A signed declaration.
The following elements must be involved for a lie to be considered perjury:
- The accused has made a legal promise to tell the truth or has been sworn in.
- The accused purposely told a lie or made a false statement.
Lying is often proven by inconsistent statements made by the accused during depositions, interrogations, and court testimony.
If you are being charged with this crime, there are defenses to this accusation. Perjury is generally difficult for prosecutors to prove due to the fact that it is a crime based on intent. You can argue that even if you made a false statement, you did not intend to. Incorrectly remembering facts or making a mistake do not constitute intentionally lying. So, this is a common defense that many make when they are charged with this crime.
If you have been charged with perjury, you need to take this accusation seriously. Start building your defense today by contacting a criminal defense lawyer.