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Perjury is a Crime Under Florida Law

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You may assume that there’s some truth to the old adage: No harm can come from a little white lie. However, this saying is quite the opposite in a real-life scenario. In fact, making false or misleading statements under oath – otherwise termed “perjury” – can even be a felony under certain circumstances. A Florida criminal defense lawyer can explain in more detail, but an overview may be useful in understanding how perjury works.

Factors that Define Perjury: Though the Florida statute on perjury details the different scenarios where perjury may arise, there are certain common elements:

  • There must be a statement, either orally or in writing. Gestures or your silence do not qualify.
  • You must be making the statement under oath, which means you swear to tell the truth. For purposes of this element, you must be taking the oath before a person who is authorized to administer it. A judge, notary public, court reporter, or other official would be sufficient.

Beyond these factors, the specific crime of perjury depends on the context. Under Florida law, you may be charged with perjury if you:

  • Make a false statement in connection with an unofficial proceeding;
  • Lie in an official proceeding, usually in a courtroom while testifying;
  • Give contradictory statements in one or more official proceedings;
  • Make false statements to law enforcement in a police report; or,
  • Provide false information while police are investigating a crime.

Penalties for Perjury: The punishment for perjury ranges depending on the surrounding circumstances. As you would expect, the more serious the situation, the more severe the penalties.

  • Perjury is a Third Degree Felony when the statement is make in an official proceeding, in most situations. If you are convicted, you face up to five year in prison and a $5,000 fine.
  • If the official proceeding involves a capital felony that is punishable by life in prison or the death penalty, perjury is a Second Degree Felony. You could be sentenced to 15 years in jail and a maximum fine of $10,000.
  • In most other situations, such as an unofficial proceeding and statements to police, perjury is a First Degree Misdemeanor. The punishment for a conviction could be a year in prison and fine up to $1,000.

Keep in mind that you do not need to be testifying at your own criminal trial to be accused of perjury. Your statements may lead to charges if you are a witness for someone else, or if you are testifying in a civil case. If you are the defendant in a criminal trial and you commit perjury, the punishment will be in addition to any sentence you receive for the underlying crime.

Fight Perjury Charges with Help from a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney

The Florida criminal justice system is dedicated to truth, so the state takes a hard stance in punishing those who make false statements. If you have questions about how perjury works in Florida, please contact Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Kevin J. Kulik. We can schedule a consultation to discuss your circumstances and determine the best strategy to proceed.

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0800-0899/0837/0837ContentsIndex.html&StatuteYear=2012&Title=-%3E2012-%3EChapter%20837

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