Steve Palmer

Reasons why you should not lie under oath in federal court

On Behalf of | Mar 9, 2024 | Criminal Defense

The federal courtroom is a place where truth is paramount. Witnesses raise their right hands and solemnly swear to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” What happens when someone breaks that oath?

Lying under oath, also known as perjury, is a serious federal offense that can result in significant consequences. If you’re anticipating to stand on the witness stand, you should understand why telling the truth, even when it’s difficult, is always the best course of action.

Perjury carries hefty penalties

Perjury isn’t just a slap on the wrist. It’s a criminal offense that can land you in jail for months or even years. The severity of the punishment depends on the circumstances of each case, but it’s safe to say you won’t be getting away with a light sentence. In addition to jail time, you could face hefty fines, community service and a permanent stain on your criminal record.

It’s easy to think you can get away with a little white lie. However, it would help if you considered that the prosecution may uncover inconsistencies in your statements. Therefore, if you’re unsure about something, it’s better to admit you don’t know than to make something up.

Fighting federal perjury charges

If you’re facing such accusations, it’s crucial to understand your defense options and take immediate action. Federal perjury statutes, outlined in 18 U.S.C. §§ 1621-1623, criminalize making false statements under oath in a federal court or grand jury proceeding. The prosecution must prove several elements for a conviction, including:

  • The statement was made under oath.
  • The statement was false.
  • The statement was material, meaning it had the potential to influence the outcome of the proceeding.
  • The defendant made the statement willfully, meaning they knew it was false or acted with reckless disregard for the truth.

Luckily, there are several defenses available to fight federal perjury charges. The defense can argue that you unintentionally made a mistake or forgot a detail. It can also be argued that the statement in question wasn’t important enough to affect the outcome of the case.

By telling the truth under oath, you can help to protect yourself from legal trouble and help to ensure a fair outcome for everyone involved. If you’re worried about the consequences of telling the truth, you can benefit from talking to a skilled legal team. They can advise you on your rights and help you navigate the legal system honestly and ethically.