Perjury is a very serious crime and it is not taken lightly in New Jersey. Although it is rather difficult to prove, it happens more often than we might think. If you find yourself being charged with perjury in NJ, make sure to contact an experienced NJ defense attorney immediately.
What is Perjury?
Generally speaking, perjury is defined as lying under oath. However, contrary to popular belief, not every lie that is told on the witness stand counts as perjury. It is crucial to understand that the lie must be pivotal to the case that you are testifying in.
For instance, if you are testifying about what you ate for breakfast and tell the court scrambled eggs instead of doughnuts (when in fact you ate doughnuts), this lie will not count as perjury (unless it somehow involves the guilt or innocence of the defendant in a criminal case or is materially relevant in a civil proceeding).
More specifically, under N.J.S.A. 2C:28-1, you can be found guilty of perjury in NJ if you make a false statement under oath or affirmation (or while affirming the truth of a statement previously made) so long as that statement is material, is made during the course of an official proceeding, and you do not believe it to be true.
Defenses for Perjury
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The perjury provision contains two huge provisos. First, guilt hinges on whether the statement is material (i.e. makes a genuine difference) to the case. Second, if you do not know that your statement is a lie, you cannot be convicted. These two provisos are the most commonly used defenses against perjury charges and are the main reason why it is so difficult to actually convict a person of perjury.
After all, you can simply say that you had no idea that your statement was a lie, and trying to prove otherwise becomes a prosecutorial nightmare (unless the surrounding circumstances clearly show it). Likewise, proving that the statement was material to the case usually involves backward-looking arguments that are not easily provable.
For example, a prosecutor will usually try to claim that if you had not lied, the jury would have convicted the guy on trial (or, in a civil case, the jury would have ruled in the other guy’s favor had you not lied). As you can see, such an argument requires a tremendous amount of proof that usually is lacking. Ultimately, it is imperative that you hire an experienced attorney who knows how to raise these two defenses effectively.
Penalties for Perjury in NJ
Perjury is a third degree crime in New Jersey. That means you could face 3-5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000 if you are convicted of perjury in NJ. Additionally, the crime will go on your criminal record and count against you when applying for jobs.
Studies reveal that employers do not like to hire those who they consider to be deceitful. Such empirical evidence certainly does not bode well for a person convicted of perjury. Therefore, if you are ever charged with perjury, hiring a criminal defense attorney to vigorously defend your legal rights might just be the best choice you could make.
Who Should I Contact?
If you or a loved one was recently charged with perjury in NJ, contact Adam H. Rosenblum of The Rosenblum Law Firm today. Mr. Rosenblum is a skilled criminal defense attorney who has helped people in similar situations. He will defend your constitutional rights and do what he can to have your charge dismissed. E-mail or call him today at 888-815-3649.