Bearing False Witness: Perjury in Texas Law

Perjury is the act of knowingly making false statements under oath. This serious offense undermines the integrity of the legal system, emphasizing the need for a clear understanding of its implications.

In a society built on principles of honesty and integrity, the concept of perjury can have far-reaching implications. If you’re involved in a legal case in Texas, you must understand perjury and the laws related to it. This applies to you, whether you’re the accused, a witness, or a legal expert.

Understanding Perjury in Texas

Perjury stands out as a significant crime in Texas. It occurs when someone intentionally lies while under oath. This action goes against the legal system’s goal of finding the truth.

Perjury in Texas is a criminal offense codified under Section 37.02 of the Texas Penal Code. It occurs when an individual knowingly makes false testimony, either through spoken or written statements, in a legal setting where the truth is of paramount importance. It is important to remember that perjury is taken seriously by federal law and the Supreme Court.

Distinguishing Perjury from Other False Statements

Distinguishing perjury from other false statements involves understanding the legal context and intent behind the falsehoods. Unlike other false statements, perjury specifically refers to lying under oath, typically in a legal setting such as a court proceeding, where one is required to tell the truth.

This distinguishes it from general lies or false statements made in everyday conversations or written communications. Perjury requires the intent to deceive and is considered a serious offense due to its potential to undermine the integrity of the legal system.

Elements That Constitute Perjury in Texas

The Texas Penal Code explicitly addresses perjury under Section 37.02, which provides a clear legal framework for understanding this offense. This state law explains how to prove someone has committed perjury. It ensures that the court can clearly define and examine criminal cases.

The Texas Penal Code requires several key elements to be present for an act to be deemed perjury. These elements include:

An Oath

  • The false statement must be made under oath or in a legally binding statement. This underlines the importance of truthfulness in situations where honesty is crucial, such as courtrooms and sworn affidavits.

Intentional Falsehood

  • Perjury necessitates that the individual knowingly and willfully provide false information. This element ensures that honest mistakes or confusion are not prosecuted as perjury.


  • The false statement must be material to the matter at hand. This emphasizes the significance of untruth in influencing the course of justice or proceedings.

Common Perjury Scenarios

Perjury can manifest in a variety of criminal law contexts within Texas. Common scenarios include:

1. Witness Testimony: It could entail false testimony made by witnesses in official proceedings in court, be it a criminal trial, civil case, or deposition.

2. Affidavits and Sworn Statements: False statements under oath or statements submitted to the court or other legal entities with the intent to deceive.

3. Official Documents: Falsified information is provided on official legal documents, such as tax returns or applications for licenses.

4. Notary Fraud: False information provided to the public is a crime known as notary fraud, which falls under the broader category of perjury.

The Legal Consequences of Perjury in Texas

Perjury in Texas is a grave offense with specific legal consequences defined under the Texas Penal Code. Knowing the consequences of lying under oath is important to understand how serious this crime is under Texas law. A person found guilty of perjury may face the following consequences:

Class A Misdemeanor:

Perjury typically constitutes a Class A misdemeanor in Texas. This charge carries a potential penalty of up to one year in jail time and fines of up to $4,000.

Felony Perjury:

A third to second degree felony perjury charge can apply if someone makes a false statement related to the sale of property. This is a more severe offense with increased penalties, including substantial fines and potential imprisonment for more than a year.

It is important to remember that seeking legal advice is important for anyone involved in perjury cases. An experienced criminal defense attorney can greatly impact the outcome of your case.

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