If you are appearing in court for a legal matter, it is important that you tell the truth.
Not telling the truth in court can potentially lead to a charge of perjury, which is a serious criminal offence and comes with potentially harsh penalties.
Perjury in NSW is a criminal charge that is made when someone is accused of deliberately misleading the course of justice by not telling the truth under oath in court.
When you give any type of statement in a court, you will be required to swear an oath or give an affirmation to tell the truth.
The form of the oath you swear or affirm and the ceremony surrounding it may differ, but once you have sworn this oath or affirmation, if you are found to be not telling the truth, you can be charged with perjury.
What are examples of perjury charges in NSW?
There are a few different types of perjury in NSW, depending on the specific nature of the alleged offence. The different perjury charges include:
- Perjury with intent to procure conviction or acquittal. You are likely to be charged with this offence if the prosecution can prove that you lied under oath so that someone else could be either falsely convicted of a crime or acquitted of charges. This offence carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.
- False statement on oath not amounting to perjury. This offence is used where there is not enough evidence for a charge of perjury, but the jury believes that there is enough to prove that an offence was committed. False swearing on oath not amounting to perjury comes with a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment.
- Contradictory statements on oath. If you are on trial for perjury or for a charge of false statement on oath not amounting to perjury, and you make two statements that are irreconcilably in contradiction to one another, you can be charged with this offence. The punishment for a conviction is the same as for perjury or making a false statement under oath.
- Subornation of perjury. This offence is when you cause another person to give a false statement under oath, or commit perjury by persuading, coercing or inducing them. Subornation of perjury comes with a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison if it is done with the intention of procuring a conviction or an acquittal.
- False entry on public register. If you are convicted of making a false entry on a public register for an ‘improper purpose’, you can be charged with this offence, which comes with a penalty of five years in prison.
Perjury charges in NSW are the same whether the statement made is verbal or written. It also doesn’t matter what type of oath or affirmation you swore, as long as you agreed to the terms that were used.
Perjury is an offence that can come with harsh penalties, so it is important to take it seriously.
With the right legal assistance it is possible to successfully defend a charge of perjury in NSW.
Some common defences include a genuine belief that the information you gave was true, and an improper understanding of the question asked.
If you have been charged with perjury or a false statement offence, make sure you seek legal representation as early as possible so that you can reduce the chances of being found guilty and receiving a penalty.