Consequences of Perjury in Texas

Observing courtroom proceedings often involves witnessing witnesses take an oath to testify truthfully. Should a person on the stand be caught providing false information under this oath, it could lead to perjury charges. Despite common misconceptions, perjury transcends minor falsehoods in the eyes of the law.

Confronting perjury charges is a substantial matter and may entail more than a mere financial penalty when pursued by prosecutors. Continue reading for a comprehensive insight into the various aspects of perjury and the ways in which a proficient attorney can offer assistance.

Perjury Definition in Texas

In the eyes of Texas law, perjury occurs when an individual knowingly makes a false statement under oath or swears. The intent is a key element; it’s not merely about being mistaken but about intentionally deceiving the court or another legal body.

As per Texas Penal Code 37.02, a person commits an offense if they intend to deceive and have knowledge of the statement’s meaning.

Beyond courtroom lies, perjury can also involve providing false information on your tax return, during a deposition, or in an affidavit.

Perjury vs. False Swearing

In Texas, if you lie on purpose while testifying or in a formal setting, it’s called perjury, and you could face serious consequences, like a misdemeanor or felony. If you intentionally lie in written statements, it’s called false swearing and can lead to a misdemeanor charge. Penalties depend on the situation, so it’s important to talk to a lawyer for personalized advice.

Penalties for Perjury

The consequences for perjury in Texas are nothing to scoff at. A conviction can result in hefty fines, imprisonment, or both. The severity of the punishment often depends on factors such as the materiality of the false statement and the specific legal proceedings involved. The penalties for perjury in Texas include:

Class A Misdemeanor: Providing false information in an official proceeding that is not a capital offense but is related to the prosecution of a felony is generally considered a Class A misdemeanor. This offense is punishable by up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $4,000.

Third-Degree Felony: If the false statement is made in an official proceeding related to a capital offense, perjury can be classified as a third-degree felony. Conviction for a third-degree felony can result in imprisonment for 2 to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

How does Aggravated Perjury differ from Regular Perjury?

Aggravated perjury is not just an upgraded version of perjury; it’s a distinct offense with different rules. Unlike perjury, aggravated perjury has specific elements outlined in Section 37.03(a) of the Texas Penal Code.

The key contrast lies in the setting—aggravated perjury must take place during an official proceeding, like a trial, whereas perjury can happen in various situations. Another distinction is that the false statement in aggravated perjury must be important to the case.

In terms of penalties, aggravated perjury is more serious and is treated as a third-degree felony, while perjury is a Class A misdemeanor, the highest category of misdemeanors. Third-degree felonies are one step above in seriousness compared to Class A misdemeanors.

Possible Legal Defense if Charged with Perjury in Texas

Facing perjury charges in Texas is a serious matter, but there are potential defenses that a skilled attorney can explore to protect your rights and create a solid legal strategy. Here are some common defenses against perjury in Texas:

  1. Lack of Intent: Perjury means you knowingly and purposely lied. If it’s proven that your lie was an honest mistake, not intentional deception, it can be a strong defense. This defense emphasizes that there was no intentional effort to mislead.
  2. Mistaken Statements: If the false statement resulted from confusion or misunderstanding, it could be a valid defense based on the lack of intent. This emphasizes that there was no willful intent to provide false information.
  3. Correction: If the person who lied later admits and corrects their statement voluntarily, it can be a defense. This shows a willingness to rectify any unintentional errors made under oath.
  4. Insufficient Evidence: Challenging the evidence presented against you is a common defense strategy. If the prosecution fails to establish that the statement was false, willful, and material, it may create reasonable doubt. This doubt could affect your guilt.
  5. Statute of Limitations: If the alleged perjury occurred outside the statute of limitations, it may be a valid defense. Understanding and proving that the charges were filed beyond the legally allowable time frame can be crucial.

Arrested? Don’t Plea, Call Me!

If you are facing perjury charges in Texas, you have several defense options available. You can assert that you did not intentionally lie or demonstrate that you made an honest mistake due to confusion. You can correct your error voluntarily or challenge the evidence presented against you. Additionally, you can argue that the charges should be dismissed if they were filed after the statute of limitations had expired.

A good lawyer can help you understand and use these defenses. They know the legal stuff and can make sure your rights are safe during the process. So, if you’re facing perjury charges, it’s important to have Texas Criminal Defense Group by your side.