So far we’ve looked at crimes such as larceny, healthcare fraud, bribery, and others in an attempt to peel back the layers of the New York penal law. In this post, we’re going to continue that exploration, this time with crimes involving perjury and false statements. But first, we’re going to need some definitions before we get started.

Perjury and related offenses; definitions of terms.

  • By oath, we mean an affirmation and any other kind of mode that’s authorized by law, attesting to the truth of what’s stated.
  • Swear just means to state something under oath.
  • Testimony is an oral statement that’s made under oath for any court, body, or someone else authorized by law to conduct the proceeding and administer the oath.
  • An oath required by law is an affidavit, deposition, or other written instrument that wouldn’t have legal efficacy in a court of law.
  • A person swears falsely when they make a false statement intentionally that they don’t believe is true while giving testimony, or under oath in a written instrument. A false swearing isn’t complete until the instrument’s delivered, or by someone acting on your behalf to someone else with the intent that it be published as true.
  • An attesting officer is a notary public or someone else who’s authorized by law to administer oaths in connection with affidavits, and to certify that the subscriber has appeared and sworn to the truth.
  • A jurat is a clause where an attesting officer certifies that the subscriber has appeared and sworn to the truth.

Perjury in the third degree.

Now that we’ve gotten the definitions, let’s look at the charges. For perjury in the third degree, someone is guilty when they swear falsely. This charge is a class A misdemeanor.

Perjury in the second degree.

For this charge you’re guilty if you swear falsely and your false statement is made in a written instrument that requires an oath by law, and if it’s made with the intent to mislead a public servant, and it’s material to the action. This charge is a class E felony.

Perjury in the first degree.

You’re guilty of this last charge when you swear falsely and your false statement consists of testimony and is material to the action. Perjury in the first degree is a class D felony.

Perjury; pleading and proof where inconsistent statements involved.

When someone makes two statements under oath that are inconsistent enough that one isn’t true, and the circumstances are such that every statement was made in the jurisdiction of New York and in the period of the statute of limitations for the crime, the inability of people to establish which statement is false doesn’t preclude a prosecution for perjury, and the prosecution can be carried out like this: the indictment can set forth the two statements and charge that one is false and perjurious. Also, the falsity of one or the other can be established by proof, or else a showing of their inconsistency. The actual highest degree of perjury that the defendant can be convicted of is determined by assuming both statements are false. If perjury of the same level would be established by making each statement, the defendant can be convicted of that degree at the most. If perjury of different degrees would be established by making the two statements, the defendant can be convicted of the lesser degree at most.

Perjury; defense.

It’s important to note that it is considered an affirmative defense that the defendant retracted his false statement while in the proceeding, before the false statement affected the proceeding, and before it was clear that its falsity was exposed.

Perjury; no defense.

It can’t be used as defense of perjury that the defendant wasn’t competent to make the false statement, or the defendant mistakenly believed that false statement was immaterial, or the oath was taken in a strange way, or that the authority of the attesting officer was defective, if the defect was excusable under any statute of the law.

Making an apparently sworn false statement in the second degree.

Now we get into making an apparently sworn false statement in the second degree. You’re guilty of this charge when you subscribe a written instrument knowing that it has a false statement and which you don’t believe is true, and when you intend that this instrument will be uttered with a jurat affixed to it. This crime is charged as a class A misdemeanor.

Making an apparently sworn false statement in the first degree.

You’re guilty of this charge if you commit the preceding crime and the written instrument involved requires an oath, and the false statement is made to mislead a public servant, and the false statement is material to the action. This charge is a class E felony.

Making a punishable false written statement.

You’re guilty of making a punishable false written statement when you knowingly make a false statement which you don’t think is true in a written instrument that bears a legally authorized form notice to the effect that false statements are in fact punishable. This crime is considered a class A misdemeanor.

Perjury and related offenses; requirement of corroboration.

Now in any prosecution for perjury, falsity of a statement can’t be established by the uncorroborated testimony of one witness.

We hope this post made the various crimes of perjury and false statements just a little bit clearer for you, and remember: if you’re facing legal trouble, it’s best that you get in touch with Joseph Potashnik and Associates, PC.