The media is replete with stories about high-profile athletes, politicians, and government officials who testify falsely under oath in various settings. No matter the context, and no matter whether they are famous and wealthy, all individuals can face federal perjury charges.
The penalties for federal perjury charges in Washington DC are severe and may include sentences in federal prison and the payment of high fines. A perjury conviction can also place a permanent stain on your reputation and bar you from certain professional career paths. Fortunately, a qualified federal perjury attorney may be able to help you pursue a positive outcome to your case.
18 U.S. Code §§1621 and 1623 are the general federal statutes that prohibit perjury in matters concerning the U.S. government. Under the former statute, perjury becomes an issue when individuals who take an oath pursuant to federal law that they will make truthful statements or declare that written statements are true do not abide by their oath.
If an individual who makes such an oath chooses to testify or declare as true any material matter that they do not believe to be true, they may violate federal perjury laws. The same is the case if individuals willfully make untruthful statements after swearing under penalties of perjury to tell the truth.
Likewise, 18 U.S.C. §1623 provides for federal perjury charges when individuals make knowingly false statements after taking an oath or swearing to testify honestly under penalties of perjury. However, this statute specifically addresses perjury in the context of federal court proceedings and federal grand jury proceedings.
Another federal statute, 18 U.S. Code §1001, covers individuals who make materially false or fraudulent statements or representations in any matter that falls within the jurisdiction of the U.S. government. This broadly-worded statute applies to a variety of situations, such as making false statements of a material nature to federal agents or testifying falsely in front of a Congressional committee.
The penalties for perjury violations can differ according to the type of perjury involved and the circumstances surrounding the incident that led to the charges. Penalties for a perjury conviction are in addition to any penalties that individuals may receive for convictions on other charges, even if the charges are all related to the same incident.
As a general rule, perjury convictions under any of the aforementioned statutes all carry a maximum federal prison sentence of five years. There are no minimum prison sentences for perjury convictions. Furthermore, if a perjury offense involves international or domestic terrorism, or certain other circumstances, the maximum federal prison sentence may increase to eight years.
Other penalties for federal perjury charges in Washington DC may include high fines. Individuals may be ordered to pay as much as $250,000 in fines as a result of a perjury conviction, and defendants that are organizations may be ordered to pay as much as $500,000 in fines.
Even if the federal government does not directly charge or convict someone for perjury, the fact that they made false or fraudulent statements during the investigation and prosecution of another federal criminal offense may act as a sentencing enhancement. The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines prescribe a base sentence for each federal felony offense, but obstruction of justice, which can include perjury or making false statements, is one aggravating factor that can add a level to individuals’ sentences.
When you are facing federal perjury charges, you must consider not only the potential criminal penalties for a conviction, but also the collateral consequences of a conviction. You may go to federal prison, be ordered to pay substantial fines, and suffer additional personal and professional losses separate from any criminal punishments.
The penalties for federal perjury charges in Washington DC can be severe, which makes it very important to consider the advice of a skilled criminal defense lawyer in managing your case. To learn more or schedule an initial consultation, call today.