Each time you testify at trial or at another type of court proceeding, you must first swear to tell the truth. Failure to answer truthfully could result in serious legal jeopardy in the form of a perjury charge. A dedicated criminal defense attorney could examine your situation and determine if a statement you’ve made in open court could qualify as perjury.
If you find yourself facing perjury allegations, you have the right to defend yourself. Given the severe penalties associated with this offense, it could be vital to enlist the guidance of an Atlanta perjury lawyer.
The offense of perjury is defined by Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 16-10-70. According to the statute, perjury involves knowingly and willfully making a false statement in a judicial proceeding. To prove that perjury occurred, the prosecution must establish that the person swore an oath or made an affirmation to tell the truth. The statute also requires that the false statement is material to the issue in question.
Whether a false statement is material to the issue in question is ultimately up to the judge. If the false statement is based on minor details that are unrelated to the case, a perjury charge may not be warranted. However, if the false statement could sway the decision of the finder of fact in the case, it is likely the court will deem the statement material.
There are other charges adjacent to perjury under the law. Not only is it illegal to make a false material statement under oath, but it is also unlawful to influence or cause another person to do so. This offense is known as the subornation of perjury. An attorney in the area could defend a person facing perjury or subornation of perjury charges.
There are multiple factors that can determine the penalties for a perjury conviction. According to state law, a conviction carries a fine of no more than $1,000 and a prison term one to ten years. However, there are several elements that could lengthen or shorten the maximum term of incarceration.
If the act of perjury in a trial led to another person’s imprisonment, that person’s sentence would impact the punishment for the perjury conviction. In this situation, the court may not sentence a person to a term of incarceration longer than the other person’s sentence.
There is another exception that involves perjury in a death penalty case. Anyone who commits an act of perjury that ultimately leads to a death sentence will face a mandatory life sentence on the perjury charge. A local lawyer handling a perjury case could push the court to apply the lowest sentence possible in the event of a conviction.
Perjury is an unusual charge that can be difficult for the state to prove. A jury may not know for certain if a defendant was intentionally making a false statement or not, and not every prosecutor is equipped to meet their burden of proof.
These charges are serious and can have long-lasting ramifications, so it is important to build the best possible case. Let an Atlanta perjury lawyer advise you of your rights and craft a defense suited to your situation. Call right away to learn more.