“I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” – a mantra recited dozens of times a week in TV shows and movies. It’s so familiar that its significance can be overlooked. But, when sworn in a court or other official proceeding, it makes everything said afterward either the truth or perjury.
Federal laws against suborning perjury set the punishment at up to five years in prison, plus fines. States also punish suborning perjury, which is always a felony and will carry the possibility of at least a year in state prison.
Almost anyone who has ever signed a tax return—even the most forthcoming among us—has at least wondered what kinds of misrepresentations land taxpayers in hot water. Fudging tax documents is called “tax perjury”: It occurs when taxpayers intentionally file fraudulent documents or help others do the same. It’s a crime under federal law.
Every witness who testifies under oath in any proceeding is immune from civil liability for money damages, even for false testimony. This means that a witness under oath cannot be sued for damages by another person who may have suffered a loss as a result of that false testimony.
Only someone who actually testifies under oath can commit perjury. If a person never testifies under oath, he cannot commit perjury no matter how many lies he may tell. A lie that is not told under oath is simply a lie.
The night before I was to supposed to testify about a robbery I witnessed, someone I don't know texted me a photo of my young daughter walking home from school that day. I was so scared that I lied on the stand and said I didn't see the robber in the courtroom. Can I be charged with a crime?
I was called to testify in a domestic violence trial against my ex-husband. He had recently told our son that if I ever testified against him, he would tell the family court that I am an unfit parent because I'm an alcoholic (I am in recovery and sober for 5 years). He never threatened me directly, but I was intimidated and refused to take the stand against him.
You very well may be able to sue your ex-wife. When someone lies and the lie hurts other people, even when it hurts only their reputations, the injured person can sue for slander and seek financial damages.
In my deposition in the personal injury case I filed after a car accident, I forgot that the airbag had deployed when I was hit. Now it's time for my trial, and my sister reminded me about the air bag. At trial, if I say that the bag deployed, could I be accused of perjury? Does my sister have anything to worry about?