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Defending Against a Perjury Charge

White Collar Criminal Defense By Harvey Binnall PLLC - 2021/01/22 at 03:36pm

Seek Help From an Experienced Alexandria White Collar Defense Attorney  

Perjury is a serious criminal charge, whether in the white collar criminal defense context or otherwise.  Essentially, a defendant can be held liable for perjury if they make a false statement under oath, or otherwise falsifying information material to an official legal proceeding.

If you’ve been charged with perjury, then you could be subject to severe penalties.  Here at Harvey & Binnall, PLLC, our team can help you navigate this charge and avoid liability.  For now, let’s take a brief look at some of the defenses that you can use.

False Statement Not Given Knowingly

For perjury, one common defense is that you did not knowingly make a false statement.  If you were not aware that your statement was false (i.e., you honestly believed that the facts as you knew them were true), then you cannot be held liable for perjury.  This makes it rather difficult to impose liability, as the prosecution has to show that you “knowingly” and “intentionally” made the false statement at-issue — procuring such evidence is a challenge for the prosecution.

Statement Was True

Perjury requires a false statement.  As such, a true statement does not qualify as an act of perjury — it is an absolute defense.  This defense works even when the statement is true, but misleading.

For example, if you are on the stand, and the prosecutor asks you whether you have ever been convicted of a crime in Virginia, and you say “no” — then you may be making a truthful statement, even if you were convicted of a crime in Maryland (and therefore may be making a misleading statement about your criminal history).

Statement Was Immaterial

Perjury charges can only be successful if the statement is not only false but is also material to the legal proceeding at-issue.  A false statement that has no impact on the case cannot give rise to liability for perjury.

How does this work?

Suppose that you are a witness testifying about fraud at your company.  During this testimony, you lie about why you were at work late one evening — perhaps you were avoiding a social event at home, but instead you made a statement that you had some leftover work that you had to get finished in the office.

Though this is a false statement, it would have nothing to do with the fraud claim at the center of the dispute.  As such, the false statement would not constitute perjury.

Recanted False Statements

If you retract a previously mentioned “false statement,” then you cannot be held liable for perjury — the key, however, is that you retract the statement before it has materially impacted the legal proceeding.  If you wait until the false statement has already influenced the legal proceeding, then recanting may not work as a legal defense (so be sure to recant as soon as possible).

Contact a Skilled Alexandria White Collar Defense Attorney at Harvey & Binnall, PLLC for Legal Assistance

Harvey & Binnall, PLLC is a boutique litigation firm located in Alexandria, VA, and serving clients throughout the DC metro region.  We have decades of experience representing defendants in white collar criminal cases, helping them to avoid criminal liability in challenging situations — including those that involve charges of perjury.

Criminal charges can cause serious anxiety.  After all, the consequences can be serious and life-changing.  As such, we encourage defendants to contact an experienced Alexandria white collar defense attorney at our firm to request a consultation.  Call us at (703) 888-1943 or send us a message online to request a consultation at your earliest convenience.