Category Archives: Perjury

False Statements

What is a false statement?

The elements of a false statement are (1) that the defendant made a statement; (2) the statement was false, fictitious, or fraudulent when made; (3) the defendant knew the statement was false, fictitious, or fraudulent when made; (4) the defendant made the false statement with the intent to deceive; (5) the fraudulent statement was material; and (6) the statement was made in a manner within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the federal government.

What constitutes a statement?

Courts have separated misrepresentations into two categories – concealment of material facts and misstatement of material facts. Concealment can include leaving something blank on a form, as well as telling a “half-truth.” For a person to conceal material information, he must have a duty to disclose the information. On the other hand, misstatements may be volunteered and require no duty of disclosure. This element has the most inconsistent precedent in the area of false denials made to officers.

What determines the falsity of a statement?

The statute uses clear language to indicate that this includes any statement that is untrue. While generally easy to apply, this element can become unclear when a misleading statement is literally true, as well as when the statement has more than one meaning. If the statement can be reasonably interpreted as correct, the charge must be dismissed.;

Knowledge of the misrepresentation is required. The defendant must have known the statement to be false at the time. The government does not have an obligation to provide direct proof of actual knowledge, however, and can sufficiently prove that the defendant acted in “reckless disregard” of the truth or falsity of the statement. This makes the element much harder to defend against, especially if plentiful circumstantial evidence indicates the ability of the defendant to determine the truth or falsity of such statements.

Intentionality is very important regarding false statements. The statute requires proof that the statement was made with the intent to deceive, or gain belief in a falsehood. Proof of intent to defraud or disobey the law are not required. Also, the agency does not have to successfully be deceived for intent to proven. However, lack of success may strengthen the argument against the next element of a false statement.

The false statement must be material. The materiality of a statement is the extent to which it has a tendency to influence a governmental function. If the false statement was unsuccessful in influencing said governmental function, it may still be material. Like intent, materiality is not defended against by lack of success alone, although this might help to bolster the argument that the statement was not designed to deceive the agency.

If you find yourself facing criminal charges, it is important to find an experienced white collar attorney to represent you.  The attorneys of Parkman White, LLP have a history of success in the court room and are ready to represent clients nationwide.

Perjury

What is perjury?

According to federal statute, perjury occurs when a person in court under oath knowingly makes a false declaration which is material to the issue in question. To determine whether one is guilty of perjury, the statute is commonly broken down into the following seven elements: (1) under oath; (2) before a competent tribunal, officer, or person; (3) oath authorized by United States law; (4) intent; (5) states, subscribes to, or uses false information; (6) materiality; and (7) falsity.

Let us more closely examine each element, all of which must be prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order for a conviction of perjury to occur. First, for a statement to be under oath, no particular formality is required. It must merely be demonstrated by some “unequivocal act” that the person was aware that he was under oath. Second, a competent tribunal encompasses all courts and grand juries, as well as other tribunals like administrative hearings. Usually the question regarding this element involves the jurisdiction of the court. Third, the oath must be authorized by United States law. If a tribunal other than a court or grand jury requires an unauthorized oath, the oath is inconsequential. Fourth, a proof of willfulness is required. The person must know the statement to be false and intend to use it to influence the outcome of a trial. Fifth, the person must state, subscribe to, make, or use the information. This language is to ensure coverage for acts including presentation, authentication, and testimonial reliance. Sixth, the information must be material to the issue before the court. This is to say that the statement, if true, would have aided the inquiry. Finally, the information must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt to be false. Statements can be misleading although they are literally true.

As you might can tell, “lying under oath” is often a much more difficult crime to prove than it sounds.

If you find yourself facing criminal charges, it is important to find an experienced white collar attorney to represent you.  The attorneys of Parkman White, LLP have a history of success in the court room and are ready to represent clients nationwide.