Bronx Perjury Lawyer
Courts have the power to summon witnesses to testify under oath in many kinds of legal proceedings, and all such witnesses have an obligation to do so truthfully. Any failure to do so is known as perjury and is a serious criminal offense.
Obtaining a conviction for perjury can be very difficult for a prosecutor, as they must prove not only that the defendant made a false statement but also that the defendant did so intentionally. Simply making a mistake in an official statement does not fit this definition.
A Bronx perjury lawyer could help if you are facing criminal accusations of perjury. Perjury cases can arise from conduct in existing criminal trials, during family law disputes, or even when filing taxes or other government documents, but a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney could help protect your freedom when facing any of these accusations.
What is Perjury?
New York Penal Law §210.05 states that a person commits perjury when they “swear falsely.” NYPL §210.00(5) specifically defines this act as “intentionally making a false statement which [a person] does not believe to be true (a) while giving testimony, or (b) under oath in a subscribed written instrument.”
In other words, a person may face accusations of perjury if they give a statement they know to be false while under legal oath. This scenario may occur while they are serving as a witness in a court proceeding, providing written evidence to a court, or even filing taxes or applying for a government-backed loan.
An important concept in all perjury cases is the idea of intent. It is not enough for a prosecutor to show that a defendant simply made a false statement—they must also prove that the defendant did so intentionally. Therefore, a defendant who—for instance—is genuinely confused as to the date of an alleged incident does not commit perjury by providing the wrong date in court testimony. A Bronx perjury attorney could help an individual defendant better understand what it means to commit perjury under the law.
What is a Material False Statement?
Any false sworn statement is enough to establish the perjury in the third degree. Still, higher-level perjury offenses require the false statement to be material to the case. Whether or not a statement is material depends on its context. If the statement has the potential to influence the jury one way or another, it could be considered material. If it is largely unrelated to the central aspects of the case, it could be immaterial. The finder of fact in a perjury case ultimately determines if a statement was material or not.
Consequences for Making False Statements Under Oath
The severity of punishments that may be levied for perjury convictions vary based on the context in which the defendant commits the offense. A perjury lawyer in The Bronx could help defend someone accused of any level of perjury that may jeopardize their freedom.
The simplest version of perjury is perjury in the third degree, a class A misdemeanor. According to NYPL §210.05, this charge applies when no aggravating factors are present in a perjury case.
The next level of this offense is perjury in the second degree, which NYPL §210.10 defines as a class E felony. This type of perjury involves a person intentionally providing false information on a written statement where an oath is required by law, in a way meant to deceive a public official or a way which is material to a court matter.
Finally, perjury in the first degree is the most severe version of this offense. As per NYPL §210.15, this charge applies to cases of perjury that occur while giving direct testimony and is classified as a class D felony.
What are the Potential Defenses Strategies for a Perjury Case?
There are several defenses to perjury. The most obvious example is truthfulness of the stated fact. It is the state’s burden to prove perjury occurred, and making the case that it was truthful could be powerful evidence for the defense.
Another common defense strategy is the retraction of the false statement in question. —under certain circumstances. While clearing up the record long after the statement was made cannot undo the offense, retracting a false statement during the same live testimony where the statement occurred could avoid a perjury charge. A lawyer in the Bronx could help someone facing perjury charges prepare a solid defense.
How Does the State Prove Perjury?
It is not enough for the state to provide conflicting, uncorroborated testimony to prove that perjury occurred. While this evidence could sway the jury in the underlying case, it is not enough on its own to prove perjury. Typically, the state must establish some verifiable, objective evidence of a false statement. This could include anything from photographic evidence to written documentation that corroborates the allegation of perjury.
Additionally, testimony regarding a person’s opinion cannot be the basis of a perjury charge. Disputes over opinions or facts that cannot be corroborated typically do not result in conviction.
A Bronx Perjury Lawyer May Be Able to Help
Allegations of perjury can often be disorienting, as you may believe you gave your best possible answer during testimony or that information provided on official documents was correct to the best of your knowledge. Still, if prosecutors believe you intentionally misled a court or government body, they could file charges alleging perjury.
Any conviction for perjury has the potential to result in a jail sentence. As such, it is essential that you understand the potential consequences and formulate a defense to protect themselves. A Bronx perjury lawyer could help with this process by working to examine the documents or testimony in question and contest the prosecutor’s case that you intentionally misled the court. Call today to schedule an initial consultation and get started on your case.