Perjury charges most often arise when witnesses in a court proceeding make false statements under oath. In some cases, lying under oath is intentional, but in other cases, witnesses are nervous, fail to remember events accurately or become confused about their statements.
A Montgomery County perjury lawyer may be able to help defend you when you are facing perjury charges, regardless of the circumstances that led to the charges against you.
To prove a perjury offense, prosecutors must have evidence that individuals intentionally testified falsely about a matter that has the potential to impact the outcome of a legal proceeding directly.
In situations in which this evidence is lacking, individuals may be able to overcome the charges against them with the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
18 Pa. Con. Stat. § 4902 makes it illegal for individuals to make false statements once they have sworn or affirmed that their testimony in official proceedings or a previously made statement is true.
Not only must the individuals intentionally make statements that they know to be false to try to deceive others, but the false statement must be material. According to this statute, to qualify as material, the statement at issue must have the ability to affect the outcome of the proceeding.
Furthermore, a perjury conviction requires more than the uncorroborated testimony of a single witness. In other words, there must be at least two witnesses testifying that a statement is false, or one witness testifying and a piece of documentary evidence both showing that the statement is false.
The statute also specifies some situations that individuals cannot use as defenses to perjury charges. For example, it is inconsequential if individuals accused of perjury were aware that they were giving a false statement, but they did not believe that it was a material statement. Similarly, if the administration of the oath or affirmation in an official proceeding was deficient in some way, the perjury prosecution still may go forward.
Under Pennsylvania law, perjury is a third-degree felony. As a result, individuals convicted of perjury can receive a prison sentence of up to seven years and a fine of up to $15,000. A felony conviction also creates a permanent criminal record that can be highly damaging to the future personal and professional lives of individuals.
As a perjury lawyer in Montgomery County may advise, felony convictions have repercussions that go far beyond the sanctions that the criminal justice system imposes. For example, a felony conviction results in the loss of many civil rights, including the right to possess or own firearms.
Although the facts of each case are different, various defenses may apply in perjury cases. Individuals may not be aware that they are giving false statements. The stress of the situation, poor memory, and the effects of a health condition or medication all are factors that can impact the testimony of a witness, and without a showing of intent, individuals may not have committed perjury.
Individuals also interpret situations differently. This may lead to individuals making statements that they wholeheartedly believe to be accurate, even if they are not. An incorrect interpretation is not evidence of an intent to deceive others in a court proceeding.
Some statements also may be purely the opinion of individuals, as well, which may be opposite to the views of others. When the intent of the accused individuals in a perjury case is at issue, a perjury attorney in Montgomery County may be able to help build a defense based on a lack of intent to be deceptive.
Accusations of perjury can have severe implications for your future, so you may wish to take all steps necessary to fight back against those charges. A criminal conviction for a crime of dishonesty on your permanent criminal record can pose a significant obstacle as you proceed with your life. A Montgomery County perjury lawyer may be able to assist in defending you against perjury and other related criminal charges.
The penalties for perjury under Pennsylvania law can be harsh and may include years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. Getting legal advice when you are facing any criminal charges can be essential to preserving your freedom and your future.