Perjury

Perjury

Perjury is a common law offence in Victoria. It is committed by a person who knowingly provided false evidence to the Court whilst under oath.

Have you been accused of Perjury?

Signing a Document
Police Interview
You should get legal advice from one of our lawyers before you attend a Police interview. If you are arrested before you are able to speak with us, tell the Police that you need to speak to your lawyer and we can advise you then. The Police are hoping to get admissions from you regarding the offending and to strengthen their case against you. It is a very rare that anything you say will help your case. The Police are trained in interrogation and in phrasing questions in a way that they can use in Court later to show you are a liar.

Pleading Not Guilty
If you want to contest your charges of perjury you should contact us as soon as you are charged. We can look through your brief and identify gaps in the Prosecution case that you might not see. We can advise you of possible defences to the charges. We can listen to your instructions about the alleged offending and advise you whether you have a reasonable defence.

Pleading Guilty
The judge hearing your case has a wide variety of sentencing options with which they can punish you for your offending. Our lawyers are criminal law experts. Several of our lawyers are accredited criminal law specialist. They can explain to the court the unique circumstances of your offending and your personal circumstances so that the Court is aware of who they are sentencing not just what they have done. We can help you obtain mitigatory material that we can then present to the court to ensure that you receive the fairest sentence possible and get on with your life.
Perjury charges are generally heard by the County Court.
 
What is the legal definition of Perjury?
Perjury is defined as:

Giving upon oath, in Court, evidence which was material to some question in the proceeding and the person giving the evidence knew that the evidence was false.1

Examples of Perjury
  • Giving evidence that your partner was at home with you when they were alleged to have committed an offence, even though they weren’t
  • Giving evidence that you were not the driver of the car when you were
  • Providing a sworn statement to Police which says that you were not involved in an altercation when you were
“Can the Prosecution prove you knowingly provided false evidence?”
Legislation
There is no specific legislation for Perjury as this is a common law offence.

Elements of the offence
To establish a perjury charge, the Prosecution must prove the following elements beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. The accused was under oath
  2. The accused made a false statement
  3. The accused knew the statement was false

[1] R v Traino (1987) 45 SASR 47.
 
If a person has been charged with perjury they may rely on the following defences:
  • He/she did not intend to mislead the Court
  • He/she did not know that their evidence was false
  • He/she honestly thought they were telling the truth
Questions in cases like this
  • Did you know that your evidence was false?
  • Was your evidence false?
  • Did you in fact provide a sworn statement?
If you have been charged with perjury, you should call us to discuss your case with one of our experienced lawyers. Deciding on whether to plead guilty or not has huge consequences for you and should be made after proper discussion with a criminal lawyer.
 

Perjury (Common Law) is a serious offence and attracts a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment.

Sentencing in the higher courts
Between 2011 and 2016, 29 people were sentenced for perjury in the higher Courts and received the following sentences:2

  • 34.5% received a prison sentence
  • 13.8% received a Community Correction Order
  • 3.4% received an adjourned undertaking, which is a promise to be of good behaviour
Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts
Between 2013 and 2016, 73 people were found guilty of perjury in the Magistrates’ Court and received the following sentences:3

  • 9.6% received a prison sentence
  • 23.3% received a Community Correction Order
  • 34.3% received a fine
  • 12.3% received an adjourned undertaking, which is a promise to be of good behaviour

[2] https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/higher_courts/HC_6231_314.html
[3] https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/magistrates_court/6231_314.html