Staunch Defense Against Perjury Charges
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.
At Konta, Georges & Buza, P.C., our criminal defense attorneys are recognized leaders in their field. They regularly appear on prominent news outlets, sharing their insight on intricate legal issues and discussing recent courtroom successes. Drawing on decades of combined criminal defense experience, our lawyers are ready to defend your case when you have been charged with perjury.
Perjury Covers More Than Lying Under Oath
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 that 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 another 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 the 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 that 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 that 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.
Perjury In The First Degree
Perjury in the first degree is codified in New York State Penal Law 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 Class D (nonviolent and nondrug) felony, however, the maximum period of incarceration is an indeterminate sentence of 2 1/3 to seven years.
Perjury In The Second Degree
Perjury in the second degree is codified in New York State Penal Law 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 Class E (nonviolent and nondrug) felony, however, the maximum period of incarceration is an indeterminate sentence of 1 1/3 to four years.
Perjury In The Third Degree
Perjury in the third degree is codified in New York State Penal Law 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.
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