How Common Is Perjury?

Perjury is defined as the act of swearing an oath to tell the truth, either by speaking it or writing it with the intention of lying or withholding information. As you can imagine, perjury is considered a very serious offense because our judicial system relies so heavily on witness testimony and accounts to prosecute criminal acts as well as to defend alleged criminals who have yet to be proven guilty. Not only does our judicial system endeavor to prosecute those who have committed a crime, but it is dedicated to protecting the innocent who may fall victim to a false witness.

In the United States, the general perjury statute under federal law classifies perjury as a felony and those convicted of this crime can be sentenced to prison for up to five years. In some cases and jurisdictions where the wrongful testimony of a witness has resulted in the execution of the defendant, the culprit can be charged with murder, or attempted murder.

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However, prosecution for perjury is rare. In certain instances, for instance, cases involving rape or sexual-assault, the judicial system is hesitant to prosecute those who are suspected of making false accusations. If victims of such crimes seem to be vulnerable of prosecution themselves, then there is a risk in the dramatic reduction of such crimes being reported at all. Of course, not prosecuting those who are suspected of perjury has its own unintended consequences; in particular, pressing false charges can be a low-risk way to damage someone’s reputation.

Of course, perjury is much easier to prove today than it has been in the past. Nowadays, we communicate with each other via myriad forms of technology and with unprecedented frequency. As a result, witnesses who lie under oath may not be aware of the fact text messages or emails exist to dispute the veracity of their statements. Perjury has always been a threat to our judicial process, but more and more it’s becoming a riskier crime to commit. In the age of social media and overwhelming documentation of our daily personal and professional lives we are witnessing a surge of political leaders and high-profile figures being prosecuted for this crime on a daily basis.

Ultimately, perjury prosecutions may be relatively uncommon, but this doesn’t necessarily mean a jury will believe a witness to be telling the truth. In many criminal and civil suits, witnesses may possess criminal history themselves or may be involved in some way to the crime in question. Regardless of the fact the perjury often goes unpunished, many attorneys specialize in convincing the jury that witnesses are lying or expressing inaccurate information.

This being said, if you have been charged with a crime, it’s crucial to hire a trustworthy and experienced criminal defense attorney to handle your charges. Your attorney should be also able to expertly prepare any witnesses in your defense, highlighting any issues with the prosecution’s witness in a compelling way to the jury.

Feel free to contact my office for help. I am also more than happy to answer your questions by cell at 714-381-1366 or at

Chase Geiser