If you’re worried about being caught in a lie by the other side in your divorce, it’s worth considering the severity of that crime. Depending on your jurisdiction, perjury is either a misdemeanor or felony offense. And if you’re convicted, the punishments are serious – fines, imprisonment and restitution to both parties involved in the proceedings. Here’s what can happen if you lie under oath:
- ) A misdemeanor conviction for perjury may result in six months of imprisonment and/or up to $5,000 in fines
- ) A felony conviction for perjury may result in imprisonment for up to five years and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
- ) If you are charged with perjury, you will lose your credibility as a witness and could face questions about the veracity of statements made under oath at other times in your life.
- ) You will also have a criminal record, which can impact your ability to secure financing for future business ventures, or even everyday transactions like applying for loans or renting an apartment.
- ) The more severe the conviction, the greater the potential punishment. For example, if you lie under oath in a family court proceeding and you’re convicted of a misdemeanor, prosecutors may only require probation. However, if your offense is a felony and it involves lying under oath in a family court proceeding, you could face up to five years of prison time.
- ) You can’t appeal your perjury conviction – nor can you ask the judge for leniency or probation. You will be required to serve your entire sentence.
Why do people lie under oath?
In many cases, people lie to avoid paying alimony or child support. They want their legal obligations eliminated and they’re willing to risk a perjury conviction if it means getting their way in court.
If you’re concerned that your former spouse may lie under oath, you can present the judge with evidence that may help to prove your spouse’s false testimony. For example, get your spouse’s bank records showing that you made all the payments for groceries and utilities that your spouse claimed on your financial disclosure forms.
(You can also look at credit card or utility bills to prove that your ex was not working.)
It’s important to remember that when there is a dispute between two litigants, neither side has an absolute right to be believed. The judge is looking at the facts and circumstances of each case and makes decisions based on those facts.
To find out what type of evidence you could submit as part of a counter-alimony/child support claim or to see if there are any witness affidavits that may help your case, do your homework on the internet. There are numerous legal and tip sites that will provide in-depth information about the expert witnesses who may be best for each area of practice.
Don’t wait too long to gather your evidence, because if you’re accused of perjury, you may only have a few days to submit anything in writing that proves that your testimony is truthful.
If you’re concerned about perjury charges being filed against you, consult with an experienced family law attorney for representation.
If you’re concerned that someone may lie under oath in court, call your attorney immediately and make sure that your story is documented. If the judge doesn’t have all of the information up front, he or she may not be able to weigh important factors like your credibility.
Factors to consider when thinking about perjury
What are the facts of the case?
Whose testimony is crucial to the outcome of the case? Is there any other evidence to back up your characterization of events? Are you in a dispute, or do you and your spouse want out? Are there any witnesses who can attest to what occurred? Think about how police reports, medical records, financial records and receipts will all be used to support your story.
What is the law in your state?
Do you know what penalties you could face if you’re charged with lying under oath? For example, in some states, perjury is a felony. Also, jail time can be up to five years. In other states, it’s considered a misdemeanor and you may only serve six months. And in still other jurisdictions, it’s a civil offense and if you’re found guilty, your punishment is a $5 fine.
How far will the other party go to win the case?
If you feel that your spouse is trying to use perjury to get his or her way, then you need to consider your next move. If you have evidence in support of your story, then you might want to set up a meeting with your attorney and present that as evidence of perjury. You’ll also want to file a motion with the court outlining what happened and why you believe someone lied under oath.
Getting a defense attorney on board early will give you time to prepare your case and gather evidence. These days, there are many online services that provide legal tips, but it’s best to have a lawyer’s advice. Many families have gone through a divorce where one side was caught in a lie by the other and ended up spending more time in prison than would have been the case if proper steps were taken to defend against perjury charges.
Do you have a chance of winning?
If you’re a defendant in a divorce case, the judge may only be interested in whether or not your spouse can prove your guilt. If the case is uncontested, there’s less of a chance of being charged with lying under oath. But if there’s no evidence to back up your claims and recordings don’t exist, it becomes more difficult for you to defend yourself against perjury.
In summary, perjury is a serious federal offense. A conviction can result in years of imprisonment and heavy fines, as well as loss of your right to vote (among many other things). It’s not something to take lightly.
If you’re charged with perjury, it’s best to consult with an experienced family law attorney right away. Your lawyer can help you gather evidence and prepare your defense. If the case goes to trial, your attorney will be there by your side and will make sure that you have a fair trial.