The Consequences of Perjury in Georgia
You’ve seen in it on television and in the movies. Maybe you’ve even been to court yourself and heard it said. “I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” It’s a common phrase that has been ingrained in the public psyche. So much so, in fact, that it may be taken for granted. It’s important to understand that once this sentence is spoken, anything that is said afterward is either legally considered to be the truth or perjury.
Perjury is a criminal act that is committed when someone lies under oath. It is considered such a serious offense because when someone lies during a court proceeding, the entire case can be affected. Some famous people have faced the consequences of committing perjury: Barry Bonds, Marion Jones and even Bill Clinton.
Throughout history, perjury has been considered to have occurred when someone lied while giving testimony in court. Today, the crime has been expanded to include just about any legal proceeding. If you are making a sworn statement and decide to lie or even slightly fudge the details, you could be charged with perjury.
The Details of Perjury
Though perjury seems simple enough, it’s important to understand the different parts of the definition.
- Perjury can only happen under oath. You are not considered guilty of perjury, even if you are blatantly lying, if you have not been given the oath by someone authorized to administer it. For instance, you are not under oath during a police interrogation after an arrest.
- Refusal to give a statement or your silence is not grounds for perjury. It is, however, perjury if someone authenticates a written statement they know to be false.
- The person who is lying must be doing so knowingly and with the intent to mislead the court.
- Making a mistake or not remembering something correctly is not perjury. Your statements would have to be intentionally false.
- Your testimony must remain consistent. If you say you don’t remember and then all of a sudden recall every single detail, the court may look at you as having committed perjury.
- The statements you make that result in your being charged with perjury must have been material to the proceedings.
- You can be charged with perjury even if your statement does not affect the outcome of the case.
Penalties for Perjury in Georgia
When a person is accused of perjury in Georgia and found guilty, they face potentially severe consequences. Those consequences include a find of up to $1,000 and imprisonment for between one and 10 years. If your lies result in a person being convicted of an offense, you face jail time that is equal to what would have been handed down for that offense. If your lies cause someone else to be executed, you face life in prison.
If you have been charged with a crime in DeKalb County, you need an experienced attorney by your side. Call our office today to schedule a free case evaluation and let us discuss how we can assist you.