Lying Under Oath: Can It Send You To Prison?

Originally Published February 28th, 2020

As per 18 U.S.C. Section 1621: Perjury Generally, anyone who has taken an oath in a situation in which oaths can be administered, shall tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If they willfully do otherwise, making declarations that they do not believe to be true, they will have committed perjury.

Perjury is when a person provides false information or lies while being under oath. It is a severe crime because it compromises the integrity of the judicial system and can put an innocent person in jail.

While anyone can be guilty of lying under oath, it can be hard to prove that someone committed perjury. However, it is crucial to ensure that a person provides an honest testimony because it can impact the juries and the judges’ verdicts.


There are instances where a person that has provided false information did not intend to do it. Thus, making it even difficult to tell if someone is committing perjury.

So how do the authorities charge you of perjury?

A man being arrested for perjury

Here are the following factors of how you can be charged with perjury.

  • Perjury can only happen if you are under oath

Providing statements, whether true or not, if you have not sworn to tell the truth to someone who is authorized to administer the oath, then it is not perjury.

  • Perjury requires a statement

Refusal to provide a statement and practicing your right to remain silent is not perjury. Giving a false testimony and writing while under oath, however, is perjury.

  • Intent to mislead

If the person provided false testimony and intended to mislead the court, then it is also perjury.

  • Only false statements are perjury

This is the part where it is difficult to tell if someone is committing perjury. A person may falsely testify due to a mistake, confusion, or lapse of memory, which is not considered as perjury.

  • Inconsistent statements are perjury

The juries will view a person’s testimony as a whole. Thus, you can be charged with perjury if you are providing contradictory statements.

  • A false statement made in official proceedings is perjury

You can only be charged with perjury if you provided verbal and written testimonies during a formal proceeding, such as in a court. False information given outside of it is not considered perjury.

  • Only a “material” statement can be perjury

Superfluous false statements, even under oath, is not perjury. Only lies that would tend to mislead or derail the investigation are perjury.


Perjury is a felony crime, and it possibly carries a prison sentence of at least one year on top of fines and probation.

Although it varies from state to state, penalties for perjury is punishable by imprisonment for no more than five years. A defendant may also be fined not more than $250,000.

While most people think that perjury is not that complex, it is considered a severe crime. Depending on the severity of the lies that you provided, it can result in imprisonment. The best thing to do if you are charged with perjury is to consult a criminal defense lawyer.


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Franchette Agatha an author for GlobalTel


Franchette Agatha Jardin believes that everyone has the capacity to help those who are in need. She writes blogs about issues and news surrounding those in prison in the hopes of restoring a little extra faith in humanity.