What Happens If You Lie Under Oath?

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If you lie in a sworn statement or under oath in a court of law, you commit perjury and can face criminal charges, according to FindLaw, a leader in online legal services and information. Under federal and state laws, penalties include fines, probation or imprisonment for up to five years. If you are in law enforcement, public service or in service to the courts and convicted of perjury, your employment can be terminated.

Because eye-witness testimony can lead to unintentional false testimony, intent is key in prosecuting perjury cases, notes FindLaw. If a witness gives a description and an account of a crime that is later proven to be incorrect, this does not necessarily mean the witness intentionally lied under oath. Some examples of perjury include testifying in court that you were with someone when you know you were not, deliberately excluding income on your signed income tax return and willfully lying on a sworn affidavit. To be convicted of perjury, it must be proven in a court of law that you intentionally deceived the court in a statement made under oath or by knowingly signing a fraudulent document. FindLaw recommends that if you lied under oath or are concerned about discrepancies in your testimony to contact a criminal defense attorney.