A person commits perjury when the following things happen.
- The defendant took an oath to testify truthfully or is making a sworn statement such as an affidavit.
- The defendant is thought to have willfully made a false statement while under oath.
- The defendant believed or knew the statement was untrue.
It is never a good idea to lie in court. It makes a bad situation worse. You can be charged and convicted of perjury even if you are acquitted for a different crime that you might have been charged with.
Perjury in the News
Perjury has been in the news lately. For example, a HPD officer brought false evidence against a man serving a 25 year sentence on drug charges. Officer Gerald Goines now faces perjury charges and his victim, Frederick Jeffery, is being released on bond.
Alex Jones is thought to have committed perjury during the Sandy Hook defamation lawsuit.
Authorities recently dropped perjury charges against a former Texas trooper.
Perjury Can Be Charged One of Two Ways
Perjury may be charged either as a Class A misdemeanor or a third degree felony. Perjury may be charged as a felony when it’s in connection with an official proceeding and is material to the case or trial.
A statement is “material” to the case or trial when it has significant bearing on the outcome of the case.
When charged as a misdemeanor, perjury is punishable by up to one year in jail, and a fine of up to $4,000. When charged as a felony, it’s punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000.
Perjury is considered to be a crime of moral turpitude, which could mean you’re ineligible for a large category of jobs after you get out of prison.
Defenses for Perjury Charges in Houston, TX
There are several ways that we can handle perjury charges.
One way is to show that you thought you were telling the truth during the proceedings—that is, that you made a mistake of fact, but did not tell a lie.
Another defense is that you retracted your statement prior to the end of the official proceedings. If you’re being accused of perjury and the proceedings are still in progress, then we might well urge you to take this step to protect yourself.
Perjurers are rarely arrested immediately during the case where they are suspected of lying. Sometimes law enforcement will continue investigating the witness or defendant’s statements for some time after the initial matter is over with. Don’t assume you’ve gotten away with lying on the stand. If you know that you have, make sure you have a lawyer’s number on speed dial in case the crime catches up with you.
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