Perjury is essentially intentionally lying under oath in a court proceeding. Michigan treats perjury very seriously in order to protect the integrity of the justice system and to protect innocent people from being convicted. Undoubtedly innocent people have been convicted and imprisoned based on lies and deceit so judges and prosecutors do not take these charges lightly. There are multiple perjury charges and other related charges that often go along with perjury charges. I will discuss the various perjury charges and penalties.
What is Perjury
Perjury is intentionally lying under oath in a court of law. The prosecutor has to prove four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- Defendant was legally required to take an oath in a proceeding in a court of justice
- Defendant took such an oath (solemn promise to tell the truth)
- Defendant made a false statement while under oath
- Defendant knew the statement was false.
Penalties for Perjury
If the perjury occurred in a capital offense (where the maximum sentence is life in prison) the defendant faces any number of years up to life in prison. If the perjury occurred in a non-capital offense, the defendant faces up to 15 years in prison.
Subornation of Perjury and Inciting or Procuring Perjury
Subornation of perjury is getting someone else to commit perjury or lie under oath. This is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Even if the defendant attempted to get someone to commit perjury and they didn’t, they are still guilty of a crime. That is known as Inciting or Procuring Perjury but Perjury Not Committed. That is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Tampering with Evidence or Offering False Evidence
This can occur in one of several ways:
- Withholding or refusing to produce testimony, information, document, or thing after a court has ordered it be produced
- Preventing or attempting to prevent another person from reporting a crime through unlawful use of physical force
- Retaliating or attempting to retaliate to prevent another person from reporting a crime through unlawful use of physical force
Retaliation is committing a crime against a person or attempting to commit a crime against a person, threatening to kill or injury, or threatening to cause property damage.
Tampering with evidence is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison. If it occurs in a case where the maximum penalty is 10 years or more, then it is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Perjury and tampering with evidence can often lead to other serious charges being filed such as witness intimidation which can be either a misdemeanor or felony.
Is Lying to a Police Officer Perjury
No! It is not perjury because the statement is not made under oath. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be charged with other crimes. In some instances you can be charged with lying to a police officer depending on what you lied about or filing a false police report.
Defenses to Perjury
- Reasonable doubt—the prosecutor has failed to prove their case on one or more of the elements
- The statement was truthful or the defendant believed the statement was truthful
- Uncredible witnesses—if the witnesses lack credibility, has a bias, or are impeached this can lead to reasonable doubt
- Defendant was trying to compel the truth
If you are charged with perjury you are facing a felony conviction of dishonesty which can haunt you for the rest of your life as you apply for jobs, housing, scholarships, college admission, and professional licensing. That is why you need an experienced criminal defense attorney representing you. Even if you have no defenses, a skilled criminal attorney may be able to keep the matter off your record with diversion, delayed sentence, or a deferral program such as the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA).
Lansing Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing perjury charges or tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice, or subornation of perjury you need an experienced advocate on your side. Call Austin Legal Services, PLC today to speak to a Michigan perjury defense lawyer at (517) 614-1983!
Defending charges of perjury, subornation of perjury, obstruction of justice, and tampering with evidence throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Livingston, Jackson, Shiawassee, Clinton, Kent, Barry in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, St. Johns, Charlotte, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Hastings, Brighton, Howell