Perjury in Florida

Under Chapter 837 of the Florida Statutes, the crime of Perjury is committed when a person:

  1. Appears before a person authorized to administer oaths or affirmations;
  2. Makes an oath, by swearing or affirming to speak the truth;
  3. And, while under oath, makes a false statement regarding a material matter;
  4. That the person did not believe was true when it was made.

Nature of Proceedings

As indicated below, the penalties for perjury differ depending on whether the perjurious statement was made in an Unofficial Proceeding, an Official Proceeding, or an Official Capital Prosecution Proceeding.

An “Official proceeding” means a proceeding heard before any legislative, judicial, administrative, or other governmental agency or official authorized to take evidence under oath.

This definition includes proceedings before any referee, magistrate, administrative law judge, hearing officer, hearing examiner, commissioner, notary, or other person taking testimony or a deposition in connection with an official proceeding.

Penalties for Perjury

The penalties for Perjury differ depending on whether the perjurious statement was made in an Unofficial Proceeding, an Official Proceeding, or an Official Capital Prosecution Proceeding.

Perjury in an Unofficial Proceeding

The crime of Perjury in an Unofficial Proceeding is a First Degree Misdemeanor in Florida and punishable by up to one (1) year in jail, one (1) year of probation, and $1,000 in fines.

A judge may sentence a person convicted of Perjury in an Unofficial Proceeding to probation, but may also impose a sentence up to the statutory maximum of one (1) year in jail.

Perjury in an Official Proceeding

The crime of Perjury in an Official Proceeding is a Third Degree Felony in Florida and is punishable by up to five (5) years in prison, five (5) years of probation, and $5,000 in fines.

Perjury in an Official Proceeding is assigned a Level 4 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code. A judge may sentence a person convicted of Perjury in an Official Proceeding to probation, but may also impose a sentence up to the statutory maximum of five years in prison.

Perjury in an Official Capital Prosecution Proceeding

The crime of Perjury in an Official Capital Prosecution Proceeding is a Second Degree Felony in Florida and punishable by up to fifteen (15) years in prison, fifteen (15) years of probation, and $10,000 in fines.

Perjury in an Official Capital Prosecution Proceeding is assigned a Level 8 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.

Absent grounds for a downward departure sentence, a judge is required to sentence a person convicted of Perjury in an Official Capital Prosecution Proceeding to a minimum sentence of 34½ months in prison, but may also sentence the person up to the statutory maximum of fifteen (15) years in prison.

Defenses to Perjury

In addition to the pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal case, specific defenses to the crime of Perjury are:

  1. Materiality
  2. Recantation

Materiality

Technically, under Florida law, materiality is not a defense, but an issue that must be decided by a judge as a matter of law.

However, if it can be shown that the false statement did not relate to a material matter in the proceeding, the charge of perjury would be dismissed.

Recantation

It is a defense to the crime of Perjury if the person making the false statement admits such statement to be false in the same continuous proceeding and

  1. The false statement has not substantially affected the proceeding; or
  2. Such admission is made before it has become manifest that such false statement has been or will be exposed.

Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby

If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of Perjury in Central Florida or the greater Orlando area, please contact Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer today.

The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.