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Perjury, the making of false statements under oath that directly pertain to a matter being investigated, is a crime with different criminal sentences depending on region. It’s impossible to state the penalty for perjury in all instances because of regional and jurisdictional variations. Additionally courts don’t always prosecute perjurers. This doesn’t mean they can’t or that committing perjury couldn’t result in fines or jail time.
The most common penalty for perjury is a fine and/or jail, but the amount of the fine or jail time can depend on judicial discretion in sentencing. It’s possible for there to be a minimum sentence length as a penalty, perhaps one year, and a maximum length of sentencing at five to 10 years per charge. If the person has committed more than one act of perjury, as by making numerous false statements under oath, he or she could be charged with multiple offenses and that could increase total fines charged or jail time. If the penalty is a mandatory one-year sentence, and the person perjured himself five times, he might face five years in prison.
Sometimes a judge has the discretion to decide against handing down a sentence as a penalty for perjury. There are people who have been convicted of the crime, and yet haven’t faced any type of jail time.
There are some conditions that must be met before any penalty for perjury is considered, or where a person would even be tried for committing it. The false statement or statements made under oath must deal materially with the case. A woman who gets on the stand and insists she’s five years younger than her true age is committing perjury, but this may not be actionable unless her age is directly related to the case. It is still not recommended to lie under oath, but the trouble would begin for anyone who lies under oath in a way that affects the judicial proceedings. Any lies that might make the judge or jury see things in an untruthful way could result in a penalty for perjury, if a person is caught and convicted.
Another type of penalty might exist for suborning perjury, which occurs when a lawyer who knows that a client will give false testimony allows it to happen. They cannot allow this and must discourage clients who will lie from testifying in court. Lawyers can face criminal charges when their clients do this, and to avoid this charge, they frequently ask clients to disclose as little as possible about their actions in any crime. This way the lawyer does not know if a client’s testimony is truth or lie (perjury) and he cannot be accused of suborning perjury.