Perjury is telling lies on oath in court. At all events, one might think so. The Wikipedia makes it sound more complicated, in England especially. That is how lawyers get rich.
Perjury ex Wiki
Perjury, also known as forswearing, is the intentional act of swearing a false oath or of falsifying an affirmation to tell the truth, whether spoken or in writing, concerning matters material to an official proceeding.[A] Contrary to popular misconception, no crime has occurred when a false statement is (intentionally or unintentionally) made while under oath or subject to penalty—instead, criminal culpability only attaches at the instant the declarant falsely asserts the truth of statements (made or to be made) which are material to the outcome of the proceeding. For example, it is not perjury to lie about one's age except where age is a fact material to influencing the legal result, such as eligibility for old age retirement benefits or whether a person was of an age to have legal capacity.
Perjury is considered a serious offense as it can be used to usurp the power of the courts, resulting in miscarriages of justice. In the United States, for example, the general perjury statute under Federal law classifies perjury as a felony and provides for a prison sentence of up to five years. The California Penal Code allows for perjury to be a capital offense in cases causing wrongful execution. However prosecutions for perjury are rare. In some countries such as France and Italy, suspects cannot be heard under oath or affirmation and thus cannot commit perjury, regardless of what they say during their trial.
The rules for perjury also apply when a person has made a statement under penalty of perjury, even if the person has not been sworn or affirmed as a witness before an appropriate official. An example of this is the United States' income tax return, which, by law, must be signed as true and correct under penalty of perjury (see 26 U.S.C. § 6065). Federal tax law provides criminal penalties of up to three years in prison for violation of the tax return perjury statute. See:
Statements which entail an interpretation of fact are not perjury because people often draw inaccurate conclusions unwittingly, or make honest mistakes without the intent to deceive. Individuals may have honest but mistaken beliefs about certain facts, or their recollection may be inaccurate, or may have a different perception of what is the accurate way to state the truth. Like most other crimes in the common law system, to be convicted of perjury one must have had the intention (mens rea) to commit the act, and to have actually committed the act (actus reus). Further, statements that are facts cannot be considered perjury, even if they might arguably constitute an omission, and it is not perjury to lie about matters immaterial to the legal proceeding.
Subornation of perjury, attempting to induce another person to commit perjury, is itself a crime.[where?]
England and Wales
Perjury is a statutory offence in England and Wales. It is created by section 1(1) of the Perjury Act 1911. Section 1 of that Act reads:
(1) If any person lawfully sworn as a witness or as an interpreter in a judicial proceeding wilfully makes a statement material in that proceeding, which he knows to be false or does not believe to be true, he shall be guilty of perjury, and shall, on conviction thereof on indictment, be liable to penal servitude for a term not exceeding seven years, or to imprisonment . . . for a term not exceeding two years, or to a fine or to both such penal servitude or imprisonment and fine.
(2) The expression "judicial proceeding" includes a proceeding before any court, tribunal, or person having by law power to hear, receive, and examine evidence on oath.
(3) Where a statement made for the purposes of a judicial proceeding is not made before the tribunal itself, but is made on oath before a person authorised by law to administer an oath to the person who makes the statement, and to record or authenticate the statement, it shall, for the purposes of this section, be treated as having been made in a judicial proceeding.
(4) A statement made by a person lawfully sworn in England for the purposes of a judicial proceeding-
- (a) in another part of His Majesty’s dominions; or
- (b) in a British tribunal lawfully constituted in any place by sea or land outside His Majesty’s dominions; or
- (c) in a tribunal of any foreign state,
shall, for the purposes of this section, be treated as a statement made in a judicial proceeding in England.
(5) Where, for the purposes of a judicial proceeding in England, a person is lawfully sworn under the authority of an Act of Parliament-
- (a) in any other part of His Majesty’s dominions; or
- (b) before a British tribunal or a British officer in a foreign country, or within the jurisdiction of the Admiralty of England;
a statement made by such person so sworn as aforesaid (unless the Act of Parliament under which it was made otherwise specifically provides) shall be treated for the purposes of this section as having been made in the judicial proceeding in England for the purposes whereof it was made.
(6) The question whether a statement on which perjury is assigned was material is a question of law to be determined by the court of trial.
The words omitted from section 1(1) were repealed by section 1(2) of the Criminal Justice Act 1948.
A person guilty of an offence under section 11(1) of the European Communities Act 1972 may be proceeded against and punished in England and Wales as for an offence under section 1(1).
Section 1(4) has effect in relation to proceedings in the Court of Justice of the European Communities as it has effect in relation to a judicial proceeding in a tribunal of a foreign state.
Section 1(4) applies in relation to proceedings before a relevant convention court under the European Patent Convention as it applies to a judicial proceeding in a tribunal of a foreign state.
A statement made on oath by a witness outside the United Kingdom and given in evidence through a live television link by virtue of section 32 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 must be treated for the purposes of section 1 as having been made in the proceedings in which it is given in evidence.
Section 1 applies in relation to a person acting as an intermediary as it applies in relation to a person lawfully sworn as an interpreter in a judicial proceeding; and for this purpose, where a person acts as an intermediary in any proceeding which is not a judicial proceeding for the purposes of section 1, that proceeding must be taken to be part of the judicial proceeding in which the witness’s evidence is given.
Where any statement made by a person on oath in any proceeding which is not a judicial proceeding for the purposes of section 1 is received in evidence in pursuance of a special measures direction, that proceeding must be taken for the purposes of section 1 to be part of the judicial proceeding in which the statement is so received in evidence.
The definition in section 1(2) is not "comprehensive".
The book "Archbold" said that it appears to be immaterial whether the court, before which the statement is made, has jurisdiction in the particular cause in which the statement is made, because there is no express requirement in the Act that the court be one of "competent jurisdiction" and because the definition in section 1(2) does not appear to require this by implication either.
The actus reus of perjury might be considered to be the making of a statement, whether true or false, on oath in a judicial proceeding, where the person knows the statement to be false or believes it to be false.
Perjury is a conduct crime.
Mode of trial
Perjury is triable only on indictment.