In Florida, the candor of witnesses and other individuals while placed under oath or during other types of official proceedings is taken very seriously. The making of false statements in a number of specified circumstances is strictly prohibited, and the sanctions for doing so can be surprisingly serious.
If you have been accused of an offense of this nature a vigorous defense is essential, and a West Palm Beach perjury lawyer stands ready to advocate aggressively on your behalf. Contact an experienced attorney today.
Florida Statutory Definitions Regarding Perjury
As Florida Statutes Chapter 837 explains, the concept of perjury encompasses a number of possible scenarios in which the making of false statements can lead to substantial criminal charges. These include:
- Perjury committed in an official proceeding
- Perjury occurring outside of an official proceeding
- False reporting to a law enforcement authority
- Providing false information to law enforcement authorities during the course of an investigation
- False statements made with intent to mislead a public servant performing an official duty
Official vs. Unofficial Proceedings
In attempting to understand the complexities of perjury charges, it makes sense to become familiar with the distinctions that Florida draws between official and unofficial proceedings in which untrue statements may be made.
Specifically, “official proceedings” tend to be those that occur before a magistrate, judge or other individual charged with taking sworn testimony or depositions, whether working within an administrative body, governmental agency or legislative body. An official proceeding does NOT have to take place in a Courtroom.
Non-official proceedings could encompass insurance company investigative queries, passport applications, the execution of government forms and the like.
Possible Penalties for Perjury Conviction
The punishment for perjury-related crimes in Florida will depend largely on the precise circumstances surrounding the false statement or statements at issue. When not involving an official proceeding, the offense is considered a first-degree misdemeanor which can bring up to a year in jail, a year of probationary supervision and/or upwards of $1,000 in fines.
Perjury in official proceedings is a third-degree felony, capable of producing sentences that include upwards of five years’ incarceration, five years’ probationary supervision and/or fines of up to $5,000.
False statements made in an official capital prosecution case involve mandatory minimum imprisonment and may yield terms of up to 15 year’s imprisonment, up to 15 years of probation and up to $10,000 in fines.
Defense Tactics for Perjury Defendants
Individuals facing perjury charges in Florida must never concede defeat without a fight, as there are often very valuable defense strategies available to counter allegations of this sort.
For instance, pursuant to Fla. Stat. §837.07, recantation of a false statement can successfully defeat a perjury prosecution provided the defendant accused of dishonesty admits the falsity of the statement in question during the same proceeding, the statement is shown not to have significantly impacted the proceeding, and the admission occurs before statement’s falsity is revealed.
It is also frequently possible for a seasoned Florida defense attorney to prevail on behalf of a perjury defendant by arguing that the false statement or statements at issue were not related to a matter that was material to the proceeding itself. When such a showing can be made, any pending perjury charge will be subject to prompt dismissal.
Contact a Perjury Attorney Today
The integrity of judicial, legislative, administrative and law enforcement functions largely depends on honest testimony from citizens and others, and that is why Florida Courts stand ready to impose onerous sanctions on those who run afoul of this proposition.
If you have been charged with an offense within this category, a West Palm Beach perjury lawyer can offer the critical insights and advocacy you need.