While most people think of perjury in the context of witness testimony in a courtroom, violations of federal perjury laws can occur in many other situations. Perjury violations can arise from statements given to federal officials in the course of an investigation, administrative proceedings before a federal agency, or testimony before Congress, its committees, or sub-committees.
Any false statement made in these contexts can constitute perjury, so long as it is made under a lawful oath or under penalty of perjury as authorized by federal law. Federal perjury cases in Washington DC can have extremely severe consequences for your professional and personal life if you are convicted, which is why retaining a qualified defense lawyer may be crucial to your future prospects.
Under 18 U.S. Code §1621, perjury occurs when an individual takes an oath authorized by federal law in front of a court, officer, or other similar official that they will testify truthfully and/or provide truthful written testimony, and then testifies or declares to any material matter that they do not believe to be true.
The testimony, whether oral or written, must be willful and contrary to the oath that the individuals have taken. It is also perjury if individuals make any statement under penalties of perjury as permitted under federal law to willfully state as true any material matters which they do not believe to be true.
One other commonly cited perjury statute is 18 U.S.C. §1623. This statute addresses willfully false statements made under oath or penalties of perjury in federal courts and grand juries.
Additionally, 18 U.S.C. §1001 prohibits individuals from knowingly and willfully making any materially false or fraudulent statement or representation in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the U.S. government. Meeting any of the elements described above can support federal perjury cases in Washington DC.
The standard of proof for a perjury conviction under 18 U.S. Code § 1621 is relatively high. In order to perjure themselves knowingly and willingly, individuals must know—or consciously chose not to know—that their statements were false. They also must have had an intent to deceive by making the statements at issue.
Furthermore, the perjured statements must be material to the proceedings. This means that the information has a natural influence on the decision-making body involved in the proceedings.
In order to support a perjury conviction, the government must show that the individuals made a false statement or false writing. A statement may be false if it contains a false material fact, but also if it omits or misrepresents a material fact. Therefore, federal perjury cases in Washington DC encompass not only materially false facts, but also facts that are false or appear to be false because of another omitted fact.
General perjury violations under 18 U.S.C. §§1621 or 1623 can result in a federal prison sentence of up to five years. A violation of 18 U.S.C. §1001 also can result in a five-year federal prison sentence, but if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism or certain other provisions of the law, the potential prison sentence increases to a maximum of eight years. All perjury convictions carry the possibility for fines in addition to prison sentences.
Convictions in federal perjury cases in Washington DC can have devastating consequences on your career, your family, your reputation, and your life in general. You may be able to take advantages of certain defenses or strategies to combat your federal perjury case if you enlist the assistance of a federal perjury lawyer. Call today to learn more.