Perjury has become a part of everyday vernacular in New York and throughout the United States. Whether you sign something under “Penalty of Perjury” or you watch Law and Order, Perjury pops up everywhere. So, instead of rushing out to a criminal defense attorney after you have been charged, the following is a “primer” on the law of Perjury in the Third, Second and First Degrees (NY Penal Law Sections 210.05, 210.10 and 210.15) in New York: 210.05 Perjury in the Third Degree:
A person is guilty of Perjury in the Third Degree when he swears falsely.
Perjury in the Third Degree is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail.
210.10 Perjury in the Second Degree:
A person is guilty of Perjury in the Second Degree when he swears falsely and when his false statement is (a) made in a subscribed written instrument for which an oath is required by law, and (b) made with intent to mislead a public servant in the performance of his official functions, and (c) material to the action, proceeding or matter involved.
Perjury in the Second Degree is a class E felony punishable by up to 4 years in state prison.
210.15 Perjury in the First Degree:
A person is guilty of Perjury in the First Degree when he swears falsely and when his false statement (a) consists of testimony, and (b) is material to the action, proceeding or matter in which it is made.
Perjury in the First Degree is a class D felony punishable by up to 7 years in state prison.
More information after the jump…
While the Perjury statute may seem relatively clear, before you go ahead on your own, you need to have a grasp on the underlying definitions involved in this crime. These definitions are codified as well.
210.00 Perjury and related offenses; definitions of terms:
The following definitions are applicable to this article:
1. “Oath” includes an affirmation and every other mode authorized by law of attesting to the truth of that which is stated.
2. “Swear” means to state under oath.
3. “Testimony” means an oral statement made under oath in a proceeding before any court, body, agency, public servant or other person authorized by law to conduct such proceeding and to administer the oath or cause it to be administered.
4. “Oath required by law.” An affidavit, deposition or other subscribed written instrument is one for which an “oath is required by law” when, absent an oath or swearing thereto, it does not or would not, according to statute or appropriate regulatory provisions, have legal efficacy in a court of law or before any public or governmental body, agency or public servant to whom it is or might be submitted.
5. “Swear falsely.” A person “swears falsely” when he intentionally makes a false statement which he does not believe to be true (a) while giving testimony, or (b) under oath in a subscribed written instrument. A false swearing in a subscribed written instrument shall not be deemed complete until the instrument is delivered by its subscriber, or by someone acting in his behalf, to another person with intent that it be uttered or published as true.
6. “Attesting officer” means any notary public or other person authorized by law to administer oaths in connection with affidavits, depositions and other subscribed written instruments, and to certify that the subscriber of such an instrument has appeared before him and has sworn to the truth of the contents thereof.
7. “Jurat” means a clause wherein an attesting officer certifies, among other matters, that the subscriber has appeared before him and sworn to the truth of the contents thereof.
Armed with this information, you should have a basic understanding of Perjury. In the second part of this primer on Perjury I will review some of the statutory defenses set out by the Penal Law. However, keep in mind that a review of these statutes is no substitute for an analysis of applicable case law as well as the assistance of a NY criminal defense attorney.
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