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Perjury

Perjury Attorney in Manhattan

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Perjury charges are very serious. Contact an experienced Manhattan perjury lawyer immediately if you find yourself under investigation or arrest for perjury. A person commits perjury when they swear falsely. While this sounds simple, it is actually complex because the perjury statute is filled with specific laws that carry very precise legal definitions. For example, most people know that if you take the stand during a trial and you lie, you are committing perjury. However, the concepts of both taking an oath and giving testimony are much broader than what most people think. Moreover, there are many defenses to perjury that make it hard to prove that a person actually committed perjury, even if it appears that they are lying. This is probably why people like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds were ultimately acquitted of perjury charges during their respective steroid scandals.

The Components of Committing Perjury

These are the components that make up a perjury charge:

  • A person swears falsely when that person intentionally makes a false statement which they do not believe to be true while they are either giving testimony or when their statement is under oath in a subscribed written instrument.
  • A person intentionally makes a false statement which he does not believe to be true when that person's conscious objective or purpose is to do so. This means that if a person mistakenly says something that is false, he is not committing perjury if he subjectively believes the statement is true.
  • The term testimony is defined as any oral statement made under oath in a proceeding before any court, body, agency, public servant, or other person authorized by law to conduct such proceeding and to administer the oath or cause it to be administered.
  • An oath includes an affirmation and every other mode authorized by law of attesting to the truth of that which is stated.

About Prosecuting Perjury

In any prosecution for perjury, the falsity of any statement may not be established by the uncorroborated testimony of a single witness. This means that a statement cannot be perjurious even if the contradicting statement is believable unless it is corroborated by other evidence. There must be additional evidence which tends to prove that the statement in question is false. This means that in a "he said, she said" context, a person cannot be convicted of perjury even if one version of events is believed versus the other unless there is additional evidence that shows the person lied in his statement.


When a person makes two statements under oath which are inconsistent to the degree that one of them is necessarily false, and where the circumstances are such that each statement, if false, is perjurious, the inability of the prosecution to establish which of the statements is the false one, does not preclude a prosecution for perjury provided that it is shown that the two statements are irreconcilable. This means that if a person takes an oath and gives two distinct versions of events about something and the two versions are such that one of them must be false, then the person can be prosecuted for perjury even if the government cannot establish which of the two versions is false.


Defending against Charges of Perjury

With regard to all degrees of perjury, there is an affirmative defense in which a person is not guilty of this crime if they can prove that they retracted their false statement in the course of the proceeding in which it was made before such false statement substantially affected the proceeding and before it became manifest that its falsity was or would be exposed. This means that if you "come clean" during your testimony and correct it before it ends and before it’s obvious that you are lying, you are not guilty of perjury. Like with all affirmative defenses, however, the burden is on the defendant to provide evidence of this.

There are three degrees of perjury under New York law. In its most basic form, swearing falsely is Perjury in the Third Degree. Adding certain factors to how and when the false statement was procured, aggravates the degree. For a more detailed explanation regarding the degrees of perjury, what the government needs to prove to sustain a conviction, and what the applicable sanctions are, see below.

If you or a loved one is accused of perjury do not hesitate to contact John Buza, an experienced perjury lawyer in Manhattan, for a free consultation. Call now at (212) 577-9328.

Perjury in the First Degree

Perjury in the First Degree is codified in New York Penal Code Section 210.15. It is a class D felony. There is no minimum period of mandatory incarceration if a person with no prior felony convictions is convicted of a class D (non-violent and non-drug) felony, however, the maximum period of incarceration is an indeterminate sentence of 2 1/3 to 7 years.

Perjury in the Second Degree

Perjury in the Second Degree is codified in New York Penal Code Section 210.10. It is a class E felony. There is no minimum period of mandatory incarceration if a person with no prior felony convictions is convicted of a class E (non-violent and non-drug) felony, however, the maximum period of incarceration is an indeterminate sentence of 1 1/3 to 4 years.

Perjury in the Third Degree

Perjury in the Third Degree is codified in New York Penal Code Section 210.05. It is a class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail.

A false statement is considered material to an action, proceeding, or matter when it reflects on the matter under consideration during the action or proceeding in which it is made, or tends to support and give credit to the witness in respect to the main fact in issue.

Accusations of perjury are serious. If you, or a loved one, is accused of perjury, do not hesitate to contact John Buza, an experienced Manhattan perjury lawyer, for a free consultation.

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