Perjury, also known as forswearing, is the act of lying or making verifiably false statements on a material matter under oath or affirmation in a court of law or in any of various sworn statements in writing. It is important that the false statement be material to the case at hand—that it could affect the outcome of the case. It is not considered perjury, for example, to lie about one's age, unless that person's age is a key factor in proving the case. Perjury is considered a serious offense as it can be used to usurp the power of the courts, resulting in miscarriages of justice. In the United States, for example, the general perjury statute under Federal law provides for a prison sentence of up to five years, and is found at . See also . In the United Kingdom the penalty for perjury is a prison sentence of up to seven years, however prosecutions for perjury are rare.

The rules for perjury also apply to witnesses who have affirmed they are telling the truth. Affirmation is used by a witness who is unable to swear to tell the truth. For example, in the United Kingdom a witness may swear on the Bible or other holy book. If a witness has no religious beliefs, or does not wish to swear on a holy book, the witness may make an affirmation he or she is telling the truth instead.

The rules for perjury also apply when a person has made a statement under penalty of perjury, even if the person has not been sworn or affirmed as a witness before an appropriate official. An example of this is the United States' income tax return, which, by law, must be signed as true and correct under penalty of perjury (see ). Federal tax law provides criminal penalties of up to three years in prison for violation of the tax return perjury statute. See .

Statements of interpretation of fact are not perjury because people often make inaccurate statements unwittingly and not deliberately. Individuals may have honest but mistaken beliefs about certain facts or their recollection may be inaccurate. Like most other crimes in the common law system, to be convicted of perjury one must have had the intention (mens rea) to commit the act, and to have actually committed the act (actus reus).

In some countries such as France and Germany, suspects cannot be heard under oath or affirmation and thus cannot commit perjury, regardless of what they say during their trial.

Famous people who have been convicted of perjury

Famous people accused of perjury

Famous people who have been accused of perjury include:

  • Barry Bonds has been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly perjuring himself in testimony before a grand jury in 2003 as part of the BALCO steroid scandal, in which he denied using any performance-enhancing drugs.
  • Former Houston Police Chief Clarence Bradford - was indicted by Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal for alleged swearing at fellow Houston Police officers; perjury charge was dismissed due to the lack of evidence and/or fabricated charges.
  • Rickey Lynn Stokes: Owner of A-Advantage Bonding Co., Dothan Alabama. Also Owner of, Was found Guilty

of Perjury by The City of Dothan Alabama.

See also


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