There has been a lot of discussion regarding perjury as of late. But what is perjury, exactly? And, what does it mean to be charged with perjury? If you are under investigation for perjury or if you have been charged with any type of perjury, we recommend that you contact an attorney at once. Perjury is a serious felony offense and if you are found guilty, you could end up spending years behind bars.
Perjury During an Official Proceeding
According to Florida statute 837.02, when someone makes a false statement under oath during an official proceeding, they commit a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. However, if the false information that they provide is in relation to the prosecution of a capital felony, the offense they commit is one of a second degree felony. Second degree felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Included in the definition of perjury and punished by a third degree felony, or second degree felony if in relation to a capital murder, is making one or more contradictory statements while under oath.
What is an Official Proceeding?
An official proceeding is a legal proceeding that is heard before a “legislative, judicial, administrative, or other governmental agency or official authorized to take evidence under oath.” Included in this “other” category are referees, hearing officers, administrative law judges, general or special magistrates, hearing examiners, notaries, commissioners, or any other person taking testimony.
Perjury when Not in an Official Proceeding
According to Florida statute 837.012, when an individual, who is not making a statement in an official proceeding, makes a false statement that they believe to be false, they are guilty of a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $1,000.
Other Types of Perjury
- Knowingly giving false information to a police officer in order to cover up the commission of a crime: first degree misdemeanor, unless one of the following is true, in which case the offense will be charged as a third degree felony:
- Oral information is corroborated by an audio recording, written statement, or can be confirmed by another person who was present.
- Knowingly giving false information to a police officer in order to cover up the commission of a capital crime: third degree felony.
- Knowingly giving a law enforcement officer, with intent to mislead, false information regarding a missing person investigation or felony criminal investigation: first degree misdemeanor.
- Knowingly giving a law enforcement officer, with intent to mislead, false information regarding a missing person investigation of a child under the age of 16, and that child suffers death or serious injury as a result: third degree felony.
Knowledge of Materiality
If a defendant was mistaken in their belief and they did not mean to lie under oath, they should, of course, not be found guilty of perjury. It is difficult for the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to mislead or lie while they were under oath.
Call an Attorney at Once
If you have been charged with perjury of any kind, do not hesitate to contact an attorney with the West Palm Beach offices of the Skier Law Firm today at (561) 220-3355. We will help you throughout each step of your case.