If you are appearing in Court for a legal matter, you will be required to swear an oath to tell the truth. Perjury is the offence of making a false statement whilst under oath.
The elements of the offence of perjury include that the false statement:
- was made when under an oath
- was made in, or in connection with, any judicial proceeding
- concerns any matter which is material to the proceeding
- was made by a person knowing it to be false or not believing it to be true
It is also a serious offence to procure, persuade, induce or otherwise cause a person to give false testimony that amounts to perjury.
What are the potential penalties for perjury?
In NSW, the maximum penalty for perjury is 10 years imprisonment.
This is outlined in Section 327(1) of the Crimes Act 1900.
What actions could be considered perjury?
The following are examples of actions that could be considered perjury:
- Lying in Court to protect a family member because you do not want them to be convicted
- Lying so that someone else may be falsely convicted
- Providing a false alibi for someone when giving evidence at a hearing
- Filing a sworn affidavit in proceedings that contains false information, such as how much money you earn or the value of your assets
Perjury charges apply in NSW regardless of whether the statement made is verbal (i.e. in Court) or written (i.e. in an affidavit).
Who investigates and prosecutes the offence of perjury in NSW?
The NSW Police are responsible for investigating allegations of perjury. Following a police investigation, the NSW Police may refer to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) any evidence that appears to be an offence of perjury. The DPP will then determine whether or not the offence is prosecutable.
Although the Attorney General retains a power to direct a prosecution for perjury, this would only occur in very exceptional circumstances (such as if an employee of the Office of the DPP were accused of perjury).
What are some possible defences to perjury?
Possible defences could include that:
- You believed the statement you made was true
- You did not have a proper understanding of the question asked
- The statement you made was not connected to any judicial proceeding
What should I do if I am facing a perjury charge?
Perjury is a serious charge that can come with harsh penalties. If you are facing this charge, it is important to consult a skilled defence lawyer as soon as possible. With the right legal guidance, you can greatly reduce the chances of being found guilty and receiving a penalty.