What is perjury?
Anyone who deliberately gives false (untrue) evidence for a judicial proceeding is guilty of a crime called perjury.
What does ‘judicial proceeding’ cover?
Basically, someone commits perjury if they lie in their evidence in a Court or tribunal on any important issue. It applies to all Courts including the Family Court.
But what if I did not realise I was not telling the truth?
You cannot be guilty of perjury if do not gave false evidence without knowing it.
Is it only perjury if I say it?
It does not matter how the false evidence is given. It is perjury if it is:
- spoken (eg in Court testimony); or
- written (eg in an Affidavit or other Court form).
What can happen to me if I am found guilty of perjury?
Perjury is a very serious offence and the maximum penalty is 14 years in jail. If however the perjury was committed to try to get someone else convicted of a serious offence (one where the jail term is life imprisonment), then the person who committed the perjury can be jailed for life.
For example, if a witness in a murder trial lies to try to get the accused person convicted of murder, the witness can be jailed for life for perjuring themselves. This is because the sentence for murder is life imprisonment.
Can only adults be guilty of perjury?
No, children can commit perjury if they know the difference between telling the truth and lying, and they knew they were lying when they gave evidence.
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