Perjury is an offense that is often misunderstood in Maryland. We associate perjury with courtroom proceedings, but someone can commit perjury out of court if they make a false statement under oath or affirmation in another official setting. At the same time, not every lie uttered in a courtroom can be considered perjury, even if it is made under oath. What is certain about perjury is that it is taken very seriously at the state and federal level. Those convicted of perjury may be sentenced to many years in prison. If you are facing perjury charges, a consultation with a knowledgeable Maryland perjury lawyer could provide answers to questions and help provide a plan to fight the charges. An experienced criminal defense lawyer could advocate on your behalf to protect your rights and work toward a positive outcome in your case.
Md. Code, Crim. Law §9-101 defines perjury in the state. Under the definition, someone commits perjury when they deliberately and falsely testify regarding a material fact after taking an oath or making an affirmation. Perjury may be committed in a courtroom, in an affidavit required by law (federal, state or local), or in other affidavits made under law or made to induce a court to take action. For more information as to where lying under oath could happen, talk to a Maryland attorney right away. In addition to being false, a statement must be made “willfully” in order to constitute perjury. Making a false statement due to confusion or a surprising mistake should not be considered perjury. Also, the statement must concern a “material fact.” A false statement about an inconsequential matter should not be taken as perjury. A material fact is generally considered to be a fact that could influence the outcome of the case.
The U.S. Code contains several provisions dealing with perjury. Some of these laws pertain only to proceedings in federal court while others apply to any statements made under oath or after making a declaration that the person involved understands that if they knowingly provide false information they may be charged with perjury. As with the Maryland definition of perjury, a false statement must be made willfully, and it must be of material significance. The federal statutes add the requirement that the person making the statement must know or believe it to be false in order for perjury to occur.
Both the federal and state laws also prohibit the subornation of perjury. This offense occurs when one person “procures” another person to commit perjury.
Under Md. Code, Crim. Law §§9-101 and 9-102, both perjury and subornation of perjury are labeled misdemeanors. However, both crimes are punishable by up to ten years of imprisonment, which is equal to penalties for serious felonies in many other jurisdictions. The general federal perjury statute set forth in 18 U.S.C. §1621 specifies that those found guilty of perjury may be imprisoned for up to five years or fined according to the statutory guidelines. These guidelines allow for fines of up to $250,000. An individual facing these penalties should seek the services of a Maryland attorney familiar with cases where someone broke an oath right away.
Because perjury is considered a threat to the integrity of the justice system, lawmakers and judges take it very seriously. That means anyone charged with perjury needs to take a careful approach to the offense. When you work with an experienced Maryland perjury lawyer, your attorney could analyze the situation, explain your options for fighting the charges and work to protect your rights. To talk to a criminal defense attorney who understands how to defend against perjury, call now for a consultation.
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