Whether it is in the context of a criminal trial, government hearing, or simply an official document or written statement, being accused of lying under oath can have devastating repercussions. On top of the potential damage to your public reputation, a criminal conviction for perjury can also result in multiple years in prison as well as a substantial monetary fine.
It is possible in many situations to resolve perjury accusations amicably, but you will almost certainly need a knowledgeable defense attorney’s help in order to do so. With support from Christopher L. Jones, a Greenville perjury lawyer, you could more effectively contest the charges against you on their merits and have much better chances of mitigating the long-term penalties stemming from your case.
The Core Elements of Criminal Perjury
South Carolina Code of Laws §16-9-10 defines two ways in which someone may perjure themselves to a criminal degree. These include willfully giving misleading, incomplete, or false testimony while under oath during a court, judicial, regulatory, or administrative proceeding overseen by the state government and willfully providing such information in a written record, form, report, or other document related to state procedures. Subornation of perjury (persuading or compelling someone else to commit perjury) can lead to being charged and convicted under this same section of state law.
For prosecutors to convict someone of perjury, they must prove the defendant knew that what they were saying was untrue and deliberately made that statement with the intent of misleading others. Even a false statement made knowingly and willingly does not qualify as perjury if it is not “material”—in other words, if it is not directly relevant to the proceeding during which it was made or has no effect on how that proceeding continues and concludes.
This means that saying something untrue that you earnestly believed was accurate, or lying about something that had no bearing on the outcome of a particular proceeding, cannot land you with a perjury conviction. As a Greenville perjury attorney could further explain, attempts to correct an untrue statement previously made can sometimes help mitigate ensuing perjury charges in the eyes of a court.
What Consequences Could a Conviction Have?
Perjury can be a misdemeanor or felony offense in South Carolina depending on the circumstances. Someone who commits or suborns perjury in written form or in any form relevant to a civil proceeding has committed a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months of jail and respective maximum fines of $100 and $200.
On the other hand, perjury while under oath during any other proceeding is a felony. A conviction for this charge could be punished by a maximum five-year prison term and a fine at the court’s discretion. According to S.C. Code §16-9-30, the same penalties apply to those convicted of false swearing when taking any oath required under the law and administered by an authorized person. A perjury attorney in Greenville could provide crucial help you contest charges filed in any of these contexts.
Let a Greenville Perjury Attorney Help
Perjury charges can be difficult to fight effectively in court, but they can be even more difficult to recover from after a conviction. Being proactive about your case could be vital to protecting your future prospects, and seeking help from a skilled legal professional could be a key first step.