New York Federal Perjury Lawyer
Perjury is the crime of lying under oath. While multiple federal statutes punish perjurious conduct, two in particular are aimed squarely at criminalizing a witness’s false statements made under oath during legislative, administrative or judicial proceedings: 18 U.S.C. §§ 1621 and 1623. The former broadly covers false statements made before any federal tribunal or officer; the latter is more narrowly focused on false statements made before federal courts and grand juries.
A third statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1622, criminalizes the subornation of perjury, which is the procuring of another to commit perjury. Violations of these three statutes are deemed extremely serious by federal judges and are punishable by up to five years imprisonment. As such, if you are facing these criminal charges, you should speak with one of our New York federal perjury lawyers to discuss your legal options.
What Constitutes Making a False Statement to a Federal Officer?
18 U.S.C. § 1621 punishes any individual who, after having taken an oath to testify truthfully before a federal tribunal, officer or person, willfully states or subscribes to any material matter which that person does not believe to be true. Similarly, this statute prohibits any individual from subscribing as true any material declaration, certificate, or verification which that person does not believe to be true.
It is important to note that a person cannot be convicted of perjuring themselves before a federal tribunal or another officer of the U.S. government unless the prosecution can show they willfully misstated or misrepresented the truth. In other words, a person must have known they were lying and intentionally chosen to lie in order to be convicted of this particular offense.
Accordingly, defense strategies for federal prosecution under 18 U.S.C. §1621 typically center around demonstrably that the defendant did not specifically intend to mislead a federal tribunal, official, or officer with their testimony. If applicable to a particular federal perjury case, an experienced New York perjury attorney should be able to construct a compelling argument that suggests the defendant did not intend to mislead a federal officer.
How Do Federal Courts Prosecute Perjury in Court?
18 U.S.C. §1623, on the other hand, prohibits any individual testifying in any proceeding before any court or grand jury of the United States from knowingly making under oath any materially false declaration or statement. This may be proven by the government by their simply demonstrating that the defendant has testified in a materially inconsistent fashion on at least two occasions.
Importantly, while §1621 requires a prosecutor to prove that a defendant willfully testified falsely, §1623 requires a prosecutor only to prove that he knowingly lied; this is simpler to establish. Courts have recognized that the following must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for a defendant to be convicted of a violation of §1623. This is that the defendant knowingly made a materially false declaration under oath in a proceeding before any court or grand jury of the United States.
Finally, in the case of a witness who has testified in a materially inconsistent fashion on multiple occasions, it is an affirmative defense that he believed each statement to be true at the time it was made. If an individual admits his lie and recants his false testimony during the same proceeding in which it occurred, he cannot be prosecuted for perjury pursuant to §1623.
What Constitutes Subordination of Perjury Under Federal Law?
18 U.S. Code §1622 defines subordination of perjury—or the act of compelling or convincing someone else to commit federal perjury—to be an equivalent offense to both previously mentioned forms of perjury. This means someone could face the same five-year prison sentence after being convicted of subordination of perjury as someone could for actually perjuring themselves.
Under current federal law, a few elements must be present in order for federal prosecutors to convict someone of subordinating perjury: 1) the defendant must have made an agreement with another party to provide false testimony; 2) that person must have actually made false statements that were material to ongoing federal proceedings; 3) the person who perjured themselves must have known their statements were false and willingly made those statements anyway; and 4) the person who compelled or requested the perjurer’s false testimony must have also been aware that their testimony was untrue.
Disproving any of these elements may make it impossible for a court to convict someone for subordinating perjury. Working with a skilled lawyer in New York may be crucial to effectively constructing and presenting a legal defense in a federal perjury case.
Even if a defendant is not charged with a violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1621 or 1623 for making a materially false statement under oath, if during his prosecution for another crime he willfully obstructs or impedes the administration of justice, his sentencing guidelines may be enhanced by two levels – equal to as much as 68 additional months imprisonment. As relevant here, this includes testifying falsely on one’s own behalf at trial, i.e., committing perjury.
Get in Touch with a New York Federal Perjury Attorney Today
Hiring a top criminal defense attorney to defend you in any federal prosecution is crucial as they could explore every viable defense and utilize them on your behalf. A New York federal perjury lawyer at our firm could successfully handle your case and work hard to avoid serious penalties. Contact us today for a free consultation.