Handling Perjury Charges in South Carolina
If you are faced with the penalty of perjury, your first move should be to obtain competent and experienced legal representation. Our perjury attorneys will help with your defense and ensure your rights are protected.
Under South Carolina law Section 16-9-10, perjury is defined as willfully giving false, misleading, or incomplete testimony under oath in any court. Lying under oath — this is the definition that most people think of when they think of perjury. But it is important to understand that the law also applies to giving false, misleading, or incomplete facts on any document or form that’s legally binding in South Carolina.
While most people assume the only people subject to a perjury charge are defendants in criminal cases, perjury accusations can also be levied against witnesses, police officers, experts, and anyone else who gives testimony while under oath, and they may be subject to a criminal charge if prosecutors find their statements to be dishonest or misleading.
If you’re facing perjury or lying under oath charges, call the Strom Law Firm, LLC at 803.252.4800 for a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case today.
What Does Perjury Mean?
Perjury is taken very seriously and the consequences can be harsh. You can be charged with the crime of perjury if you were under oath and made statements you knew to be misleading or false. If you made false statements but did not know they were false, or if you made statements that were false due to confusion or a lack of memory, that generally does not count as perjury. If you were not under oath at the time of making the statements, that is also not considered perjury.
Most charges of perjury are intended to target statements that are material to the case at hand. If the false statements you made had no bearing on the case, such as a witness lying about an event or an encounter that had no relevance to the case at hand or to their standing as a credible witness, that unrelated statement might not be considered perjury.
Perjury Outside the Witness Stand
Perjury isn’t limited to people on the witness stand or to statements at all. It can also include making false statements on legal documents such as in depositions or signed affidavits. If you sign a tax return knowing it contained false statements or incorrect facts, that can also be considered perjury.
You can be charged with lying under oath during grand trial jury testimony and in pre-trial hearings. And you don’t have to make the false statement yourself. For example, if you are given a document that contains statements which you know to be false and you declare, under oath, that the statements are true, that is considered perjury.
What Are the Penalties for Perjury?
The penalties for perjury are severe. The purpose of perjury laws is to maintain the integrity of legal proceedings. In deciding the outcome of a case, the judge and jury are looking to discover the truth of the matter at hand. When a witness, defendant, expert, or officer of the law makes false statements during a trial, the ability to discover the truth is compromised and may lead to a miscarriage of justice. For this reason, perjury is taken very seriously.
Someone convicted of lying under oath is guilty of a felony. They can be sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison. They can also be fined at the discretion of the court, or both. Someone convicted for giving false information in a document required by the laws of South Carolina is guilty of a misdemeanor and sentenced a maximum of six months in jail, fined a minimum of $100, or both.
Special Cases Involving Perjury
The Two Witness Rule
An uncorroborated statement by just one other witness under oath is not enough to make the defendant’s or another person’s statement under oath false. In order to establish the falsity of a statement, two independent witnesses must be relied upon, or the court must consider one witness’s statement only when supported with trustworthy, corroborative evidence.
Increase of Sentencing
When someone is convicted of a crime and was found to have committed perjury during the investigation, prosecution, or sentencing phase of the trial, the sentencing can be increased under obstruction of justice guidelines.
If someone induces another individual to lie under oath, that is considered suborning perjury. The suborning individual does not need to make a threat in order to be guilty of inducing another to lie under oath. Suborning perjury is subject to the same penalties as perjury itself.
Double Jeopardy and Perjury
Under the US Constitution, being tried twice for the same crime is illegal. However, after a verdict is reached, even if the verdict is an acquittal, the defendant may be charged separately for the crime of perjury for false statements made while under oath or for false statements agreed to under penalty of perjury.
The Strom Law Firm, LLC Can Help With Your Perjury Charge
The penalties for perjury can be severe. If you or a loved one has been charged with perjury, contact our experienced criminal defense team today. Call 803.252.4800 to discuss the facts of your case over the phone or schedule your free, confidential consultation at our Columbia, SC office.