Three Things You Should Know About The Crime Of Perjury

If you are under oath in a criminal proceeding, then you are required to give nothing but the truth. If you lie, and the court finds out, then it may charge you with a crime known as perjury. Here are three things you should know about a charge of perjury:

It Doesn't Have To Be Made In Court

In popular media, people are only accused of perjury if they are found lying while in court; this usually includes witnesses, plaintiffs or defendants. In the real world, you don't have to be in court to perjure yourself; what matters is that you were under oath when making the false statement. For example, if you make a false statement during a deposition (that may even take place in a lawyer's office), you have perjured yourself.

It's Only Perjury If It's Material to the Case

It's not good to lie during legal processes, but you may not be charged with perjury if your lie isn't material to the process. A material statement is one that has the ability to influence the outcome of the proceeding. For example, it is not perjury if you boast about taking care of a stray pet during a criminal proceeding that does not involve the issue of pets whatsoever.

Conflicting Statements May Be Perjury

If you make two conflicting statements that cannot both be true, then you will be accused of perjury. This is because you will obviously be lying, and lying under oath is the definition of perjury. In fact, in this case, the court doesn't even have to prove which of your statements is false; the fact that they are conflicting is enough to elicit a perjury charge.

Consider an example where, during a deposition, you claim that you were not present when your roommate was selling drugs in your shared apartment. If, during the subsequent trial, you testify that you were present but were not involved, then you will be accused of perjury. This is because one of these statements must be false (you were either present or not). What is more, the court doesn't have to prove which one is false to accuse you of perjury.

There are several defenses you can use if accused of perjury. You can prove that your statement was the literal truth, wasn't material to the process or that you believed (at the time you made it) that it was the truth. Having a criminal defense lawyer can make things easier for you. To find out more, speak with someone like Robert E Long & Associates Ltd.