What is Perjury?
Perjury occurs when a person makes a false statement under oath or swears that a statement is true when the person knows or believes that the statement is in fact false. Lying in an official proceeding while under oath is a serious offense. In fact, in the state of Pennsylvania perjury is considered a felony of the third degree. For more information on the specific Pennsylvania laws surrounding perjury Click Here.
What is not Perjury?
There are a few reasons why a false statement made under oath would not be considered perjury.
- Retraction- a person is not guilty of perjury if the individual retracts his/her false statement in the official proceeding before the false statement has a large impact on the proceeding.
- A mistake of fact- a person makes a mistake of fact if he/she makes a false statement which is believed to be true by the individual. This, however, does not also apply if the person under oath does not know the answer to the questions being asked of them and proceeds to guess an answer. This is still considered perjury.
- Intoxication- if a person makes a false statement while under the influence it may not be considered perjury.
- Entrapment- entrapment occurs when a government agent pushes a person to lie. Government agents include police officers and prosecutors.
- Lack of knowledge- it is not considered perjury if a person answers a question which they did not fully understand or that was not said in a language that is understood by the individual.
There are more circumstances that may cause a statement not to be determined as perjury but these are the most common.
What are the penalties for Perjury in Pennsylvania?
Perjury is considered a third-degree felony and therefore has strict penalties. The possible punishments include up to 7 years in prison. The judge presiding over the case has the ability to add a fine to the prison sentence or to replace the prison sentence with a fine at his discretion.
What can I do?
The first step after you or a loved one is charged with a crime concerning perjury in the areas surrounding Chester and Delaware County is to contact a reliable law team who can help defend you and protect your interests. The Law Office of Vincent J. Caputo is ready to help you through this process. Please contact us with any questions about perjury.