What is Perjury in Virginia?
If any person to whom an oath is lawfully administered on any occasion willfully swears falsely on such occasion touching any material matter or thing, or if a person falsely make oath that any other person is 18 years of age or older in order to obtain a marriage license for such other person, or if any person in any written declaration, certification, verification, or statement under penalty of perjury pursuant to 8.01-4.2 willfully subscribes as true any material matter which he does not believe is true, he is guilty of perjury, punishable as a Class 5 felony.Va. Code § 18.2-434
What does this mean for you?
Simply put, perjury is lying under oath. Perjury comes up in many situations such as giving false testimony in court, to a police officer, signing a document that you know to be false under oath.
In all of these cases, the Commonwealth has to prove three things: the defendant made a false statement under oath, the defendant knew his statement was false, the false statement is materially relevant to the case. In addition, the Commonwealth must prove that your statement was false.
There are several ways to perjure yourself. Giving conflicting testimony is one of the easiest ways. Not every conflicting statement by a witness is perjury in Virginia however, if the statements are made knowingly with the intent to deceive, then they can be charged as perjury.
Another common type of perjury is falsifying legal documents. Examples include lying on a driver’s license application, marriage certificate, divorce proceeding, affidavits.
How is Perjury punished in Virginia?
Perjury is punished as Class 5 felony. A class 5 felony carries a maximum punishment of 1-10 years in jail and a fine of no more than $2,500, either or both.
Aside from criminal penalties for perjury, you can have civil consequences. Perjury can be punished as a contempt of court charge.
Should you hire an attorney?
As you can see from the many types of perjury, it is easy to make a mistake. There are several defenses for perjury and it is important to have an attorney explore those with you specific to your case. If you have been charged with perjury, or think you might be, contact an attorney immediately.