How To Defend Yourself If Accused Of Perjury

22 May 2015
 Categories: , Blog


Perjury is the act of lying under oath. Contrary to popular belief, it's not just lies told during a trial, but also those that are told during all legal processes that require oath taking such as civil lawsuit depositions and family court proceedings. Perjury is a criminal act (usually a felony) that can even attract a prison sentence. If you are ever accused of a crime, then you can defend yourself by proving that your statement was:

The Truth

By definition, perjury is the act of making a false statement under oath. Therefore, the best defense is to prove that you did not do it, that what you said was the literal truth. This is to say that your answer might not be the truth that the questioner was seeking, but it was the truth as to how the question was framed.

Consider an example where you are asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime "in this state." Suppose that your answer is no and you are later accused of lying that you have no criminal conviction in your history. If you can show that you have a conviction in another state, but not the state where the questioning was taking place, then you have not perjured yourself.

A Mistake of a Fact

One of the elements of proving perjury is intention; you can only be accused of the crime if you make an intentionally false statement. Therefore, you can get off the hook by proving that you did not know that you were making a false statement at the time. This can happen, for example, if you misunderstood the question you were answering.

Consider an example where you are asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime as an adult. Suppose your answer is in the negative, and you are accused of perjury because you were convicted of a crime when you were 18 years old. If you can prove that you actually believed that you were a minor at the time (perhaps there was a mistake in your birth certificate?), then you can escape the charge of perjury.

Not Made Under Oath

As explained in the introduction, a false statement only qualifies as a perjury if you make it under oath. This is not to say that it is okay to lie, but again the court shouldn't accuse you of perjuring yourself if you make a false statement while not under oath.

There are other defenses that may not get you completely off the hook, but they can lead to a lesser sentence. For example, your lawyer can show that the lie you made was not material to the legal process at hand, which means it did not affect the outcome of the case.

For more information, contact Devine Law PC or a similar firm.