Fact Checked

What are the Different Types of Perjury Punishment?

Laura M. Sands
Laura M. Sands

Perjury punishment varies by jurisdiction, but is always considered to be a serious offense and a threat to systems of justice everywhere. Offering a false testimony may result in a fine, imprisonment or both depending on the jurisdiction and the type of case that the false statement was given in. Punishment is also related to how a false testimony impacts the final decision in a case, if at all. In some jurisdictions, the punishment for perjury may be suspended if a person retracts or corrects her or his untrue statement prior to a final ruling on a particular case.

In some jurisdictions, there are varying levels of perjury in which a person can be punished for. For example, in the American state of Texas, perjury punishment for a false testimony given to an authority without forswearing is considered a misdemeanor perjury offense. Perjury punishment for such a crime may result in a monetary fine, a year in jail or both. If a false testimony is given during a court proceeding in a criminal case, however, the punishment may produce a significantly higher fine, as well as imprisonment for multiple years since this type of false testimony is often classified as felony perjury.

A woman taking an oath to tell the truth. Someone who lies under oath might be charged with perjury.
A woman taking an oath to tell the truth. Someone who lies under oath might be charged with perjury.

Although it is always illegal to intentionally give false or misleading information to law officials, in the United States, the punishment for perjury is usually only issued if the false testimony offered was pertinent to the final outcome of a case. Further, in the U.S., perjury punishment is rarely issued when false statements are given in civil lawsuits. A study done on perjury penalty during the 1990s revealed that a very small number of people strongly suspected of federal perjury offenses were ever actually charged or prosecuted.

Perjury charges may result in incarceration.
Perjury charges may result in incarceration.

Perjury does not always go unpunished in court, however. Perjury punishment for multiple false statements in a criminal proceeding often results in a person being incarcerated for several years. To avoid this, many who have been accused of lying during official proceedings hire a perjury attorney who specializes in defending individuals charged with this crime.

In Canada, the maximum perjury punishment is 14 years imprisonment. In other jurisdictions, such as France, it is not even possible to commit perjury in some cases, as individuals suspected of a crime are not allowed to testify under oath and are not held responsible for any false statements given during official criminal proceedings. Each jurisdiction decides its own punishment for perjury based on its overall effect on society.

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Discussion Comments


A lawyer told me not to go to the DA and tell them I lied about a domestic violence case because I would be also prosecuted too for lying, and they would still prosecute the accused. How can I fix the lie I told in the heat of anger, to help the accused?


I am in felony court and the prosecutor lied to the court to get my court date put off for the fourth time so he could find a witness. What can I do? I have phone records showing that she is calling trying to find the witness one hour after she told the court she was in contact with the witness two days before court and that she was coming to court.


What about when a landlord lies to the court that he lives in a home that was foreclosed on and about to be sold off in a sheriff's sale, but the court allows him to file for the PUP program because they lied and said that this was the house he lived in, but it is not.

It is a rental property and he has more rental property, plus a unisex saloon and he really lives in a township. But he will take someone to court because he doesn't fix his property up and he is supposed to be living in the house. He has lied to the court, to his mortgage company, and to the HUD program. He lied all the way across the board. HUD programs are for homeowners, not investors. He doesn't have a hardship, but files a suit on a house that he is supposed to live in. How crazy are these people?


What's that word I am looking for? It's like perjury and they say it all of the time on Law and Order. Can anybody help me out?


I remember reading something in a history of law book that I have. The book told about the meaning and punishment of perjury in centuries past.

If anyone knowingly told a falsehood or perjured himself or herself, as soon as the judge found out about the perjury, the witness was arrested and received one hundred lashes, and could never again be a witness in court.

And on top of all that, he or she was required to give one-quarter of his property to the person he tried to defraud by his false statement.

What if we had these punishments for perjury in this day and age?


I have a couple of issues about perjury and the punishment for committing perjury.

I don't understand why each jurisdiction or state should decide their own definition of what perjury is and under what circumstances it is punishable. And what the punishment will be. It seems to me that these things should be standardized so they are the same nation wide. It doesn't seem fair, otherwise.

Another question - I'm wondering about a criminal court case with a jury. If someone gives a false statement, they may or may not be charged with perjury, depending on how pertinent the remark is and if they retract the statement. But the jury has already heard the false statement, and you can't erase it from their minds.

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    • A woman taking an oath to tell the truth. Someone who lies under oath might be charged with perjury.
      By: qingwa
      A woman taking an oath to tell the truth. Someone who lies under oath might be charged with perjury.
    • Perjury charges may result in incarceration.
      By: andreykr
      Perjury charges may result in incarceration.