If you are testifying before a New Jersey court, or in any official proceeding that requires you to swear or affirm that you are telling the truth (such as a deposition), failure to tell the truth can result in criminal charges. Whether you are the defendant in a case, or merely testifying as a witness, the consequences of being found guilty of perjury can be harsh.
In order to prove a charge of perjury, the prosecution must show that you made a false statement, which you did not believe to be true, under oath, and the statement was material.
What does it mean for a statement to be material? The short answer is, a statement is material if it could affect the outcome of the case. One type of such statements are statements that can tend to prove or disprove a main issue in the case. A statement is also material if it affects a side matter that can affect the ultimate outcome of the case; for example, New Jersey courts have ruled that testimony that concerns the credibility of a witness in the case may be considered material.
A statement does not have to be admissible as evidence in order to be considered material for the purposes of perjury.
What if after you made the false statement, you decide to take it back? You admit that you made a false statement and make another statement, this time setting forth the truth. If you do this before the end of the proceeding during which you made the statement, and before the false statement causes irreparable harm to anyone, this is a valid defense against charges of perjury.
Perjury is also a unique crime in that conviction requires corroboration. You cannot be convicted of perjury based on the testimony of just one witness who alleges that you made a false statement. There must be additional witnesses, or other additional evidence, to back up this claim.
Perjury is a third-degree crime, and sentences can include up to years in prison, and up to $15,000 in fines.
If you have concerns that you may be accused of perjury in New Jersey, you should be aware that this is a serious legal matter. It is in your best interest to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Call our experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorneys at 973-200-3630 to schedule an immediate consultation.