Keeping personal information private is second nature to many. However, you must be careful about telling the truth during a court proceeding or while under oath. Making a false statement orally under oath or in a sworn document is a crime called perjury, and conviction could result in severe consequences.

If you are being investigated or prosecuted for lying under oath, contact an Edina perjury lawyer as soon as possible. There are several defenses to perjury charges that a criminal attorney could use in your case to avoid harsh punishments. Schedule a consultation today to discuss your situation with a legal professional.

When is Lying a Crime?

Minnesota Statute §609.48 defines perjury as making a false statement under oath, in an official court proceeding, and in any document that must be sworn (notarized). Examples of perjury under state law include:

  • Giving false testimony in a deposition or as a witness in a court proceeding
  • Using a pseudonym on an official document or when appearing in court
  • Misrepresenting information in an application for a professional license
  • Lying in a court document such as a divorce petition

In addition, giving official statements that conflict with each other could be perjury if only one of the statements could be true. For example, prosecutors could pursue perjury charges if someone gave sworn testimony in a deposition that contradicted a statement they made in witness testimony under oath in court.

Depending on the context, misstatements could be prosecuted as crimes other than perjury. Lying to law enforcement officers about a crime is itself the crime of making false statements. Lying or misrepresenting information for material gain is fraud. An experienced attorney in Edina could further explain which actions fall under the state’s definition of perjury.

Defenses to Perjury Charges

A person must have knowingly and voluntarily lied when sworn to tell the truth to be convicted of perjury. Those requirements open the door to several defenses an accused’s attorney might offer to defeat a perjury charge.

If the information a defendant provided was true, they did not commit perjury. If the information was false, but the defendant believed it to be true at the time, they did not knowingly lie and therefore did not commit perjury. In the case where a defendant intentionally provided false information but was not bound by oath to tell the truth, perjury did not occur. Finally, a defendant who was under duress when they lied under oath is not guilty of perjury.

The law sets forth several defenses that an accused cannot raise to defeat a perjury charge. A person cannot assert that:

  • An oath was defective
  • The false information they provided was not material
  • Their false statement was not admissible as evidence
  • They were incompetent to make the statement

A skilled lawyer could assess the facts of a defendant’s situation to develop a legally viable defense on their behalf.

Potential Criminal Penalties in Edina

Perjury is a serious crime that carries severe penalties. The harshness of the punishment depends on the context in which the defendant made the alleged false statement.

In most scenarios, the penalty for lying in court or providing false information in a sworn document is up to five years imprisonment or a fine not exceeding $10,000, or both. However, if someone made a false statement in a felony criminal trial, they could face a sentence of up to seven years of incarceration, a fine of up to $14,000, or both.

Making a false statement in connection with a license to use explosives is also subject to a penalty of not more than seven years in prison and a $14,000 fine. A local attorney could help an individual accused of perjury understand the potential penalties that they face.

Combat Charges with the Help of an Edina Perjury Attorney

Being convicted of lying to a court under oath is a serious matter with far-reaching consequences. A person with a perjury conviction might be excluded from opportunities that require a demonstration of trustworthiness. Given possible jail time and hefty fines, a perjury charge is nothing to take lightly.

A knowledgeable Edina perjury lawyer could develop a strong defense on your behalf and ensure that you are treated fairly in court. Call today to discuss your case with a dedicated member of our legal team.