What Is Perjury?
Perjury is the offense of lying while under oath. It can be construed as an obstruction of justice, and because of this, it is taken seriously by Illinois and federal criminal courts. You can be charged with perjury while you are navigating the court system because of another criminal charge or when you are involved in a civil case. Perjury is a criminal offense, and as such, you are advised to work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to fight your perjury charge.
Any instance of intentionally lying while under oath can be charged as an act of perjury. This goes beyond testimonies given during criminal trials and includes statements made in family court, during bail hearings, and during depositions.
However, not all intentional lies are instances of perjury. For a statement to be deemed an act of perjury, its content must be material to the legal proceeding. So, in a deposition, lying about your relationship with the suspect may be an act of perjury if it would redirect the investigation, whereas giving a false statement about the time you spend using social media or the color of your car are not acts of perjury if they are irrelevant to the investigation.
Additionally, a statement must meet the following criteria to be deemed an act of perjury:
- It must be made while under oath.
- It can be a written or spoken statement. Silence is not an act of perjury.
- It must have been made with an intent to mislead the court. False statements due to confusion or memory errors are not instances of perjury.
Penalties for a Perjury Conviction
In Illinois, perjury is a Class 3 felony. It is punishable by:
- Up to five years in prison; and
- A fine of up to $25,000.
Coercing or convincing another individual to commit perjury is a Class 4 felony. This is known as subordination to perjury. The penalties for this offense are:
- One to three years in prison; and
- A fine of up to $25,000.
Additionally, you can have a professional license suspended or you can be disbarred for a perjury conviction. Perjury is considered a crime of moral turpitude.
Defenses to a Perjury Charge
There are a few possible ways to defend yourself against a perjury charge. These include:
- Demonstrating that your false statement was not made intentionally, but due to confusion, misunderstanding, or misremembering an event.
- Demonstrating that your erroneous statement was not material to the proceeding. In other words, you must show that although you did make a false statement, it ultimately could not have influenced the case’s outcome.
Work With an Experienced Naperville Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been accused of perjury, you are likely facing criminal consequences. You should start working on your legal defense strategy with an experienced St. Charles criminal defense attorney now by setting up your initial consultation with a member of our team at Donahue & Sowa. We are here to answer your questions and defend you against any and all charges.