People charged with a crime have a constitutional right to remain silent. They cannot be compelled to testify in their defense and may even opt out of testifying on their behalf at trial and continue to remain silent. The burden of proof in criminal cases is on the prosecution, not the defendant or their defense attorney.
Witnesses who get called upon to testify in criminal proceedings along with parties and witnesses testifying in civil proceedings, often get asked to testify about the facts and circumstances of the case and cannot invoke their right to remain silent, unless the answer to the question involves the witnesses’ own criminal behavior.
In all cases where testimony is required, the witness must answer truthfully, under oath or risk committing the crime of perjury themselves.
A Florida Perjury Lawyer will assist people who are accused of lying to state or federal law enforcement, court personnel, including judges, or any government agency that requires an oath or affirmation when soliciting or filing documents, like a tax return or in a financial disclosure form in family court or divorce proceedings.
Stages in Perjury Proceedings
Perjury cases usually begin during a legal proceeding, where the person testifying is a witness or party to the action.
If during the course of testimony, the person testifying gives false testimony, the presiding judge sends a recommendation to the prosecutor’s office to investigate the testifying person for potential perjury charges. The person may then be arrested and booked by law enforcement authorities.
If perjury charges are filed, the case will be scheduled for an arraignment where a plea is entered – guilty or not guilty. A Florida perjury lawyer works on defenses or plea arrangement with the prosecutor’s office and will submit motions to narrow issues or dismiss evidence.
If an agreement to resolve the case cannot be reached, the case is set down for trial. At trial, a jury decides the guilt or innocence of a person charged with perjury and either the jury returns a verdict of not guilty or the judge imposes a sentence for violation of Florida’s perjury laws.
Perjury in Criminal vs. Civil Proceedings
If the perjured testimony was given during a legal proceeding for a felony murder case and the defendant receives the death penalty or is sentenced to life imprisonment, then the person who provided the false testimony may be charged with a second degree felony for perjury and may receive a jail sentence for up to 15 years in Florida state prison.
Penalties for a Conviction
Perjury punishment depends on whether the alleged false statement was made in an official proceeding (testimony, deposition) or outside of an official proceeding (marriage license, insurance claim).
People who take a plea or are convicted for perjury following a trial can expect a combination of fees, fines, court costs, community service, jail or prison term, as well as probation depending on the severity of the charges and any prior contacts with the criminal justice system.
Talk to a Florida Perjury Attorney Today
Perjury is a crime in Florida. People accused of perjury should obtain a lawyer to represent them in all stages of the criminal proceedings. If you have been arrested or are under investigation for perjury, contact a Florida perjury lawyer without delay to schedule a comprehensive evaluation of your case.