When you execute certain documents or testify in a court of law, you have a legal obligation to take an oath to tell the truth. Because truthful testimony is central to a functioning judicial system, there are criminal consequences for anyone who violates this oath. This offense is known as perjury.
If you have been charged with perjury by state prosecutors, a dedicated defense attorney could help you avoid a conviction and the serious criminal consequences that can follow. Instead of acting as your own attorney, it could benefit you to work with a Winter Garden perjury lawyer.
The crime of perjury comes with four elements. In order for the state prosecutor to secure a conviction in a perjury case, the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that each of these elements occurred.
First, the accused person must have appeared in front of a person that is authorized to administer oaths. Second, they must have made an oath in front of that person, swearing to tell the truth. The purpose of these two elements is to ensure that there is no criminal penalty for false statements that are made when not under oath.
The third element of this offense involves making a false statement about a material issue when under oath. This is an important aspect of perjury, as the offense does not apply to false statements regarding immaterial or irrelevant issues.
Finally, the state must show that the accused did not believe their statement to be true at the time they made it. The purpose of this element is to distinguish between intentional falsehoods and honest mistakes. A person that mistakenly makes an incorrect assertion under oath has not committed a crime. It is up to a Winter Garden perjury attorney to ensure the state is held to its burden of proof on all four elements in these cases.
The crime of perjury is a serious criminal charge. However, the specific penalties in these cases depend on the underlying facts. Perjury can occur in different settings or situations, which means some penalties are steeper than others. A Winter Garden attorney could push back against any of the consequences of a perjury conviction.
The prosecution can be intense when the alleged perjury occurred in an official proceeding. An official proceeding includes judicial hearings, legislative proceedings, or other government proceedings before an official with the power and authority to hear evidence under oath. A conviction for perjury in an official proceeding is a third-degree felony that could lead to in as many as five years in state prison.
While still something to take seriously, perjury in unofficial proceedings carry lighter penalties. This type of perjury involves a false statement on a government form that does not require the applicant to take an oath. A conviction for this misdemeanor can result in a monetary fine, as well as a maximum jail term of one year.
Facing charges of perjury can be overwhelming, especially if you have never been arrested before. However, it is important to remember that there are defense strategies that can prove your innocence or lead to a reduced charge.
Do not accept a guilty plea without first speaking to The Umansky Law Firm Criminal Defense & Injury Attorneys about your options. Reach out to a Winter Garden perjury lawyer today for a confidential consultation.
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