What Are The Penalties For Perjury In Texas?
Whenever you sign a legal document there is often a statement declaring you do so “under penalty of perjury.” Similarly, if you have ever been required to testify in court you are required to take an oath stating your testimony will be truthful–otherwise you could be charged with perjury. But what are the actual penalties for perjury in Texas? Could you really go to jail?
What Is Perjury?
Let us start with the precise legal definition of “perjury.” The Texas Penal Code states that a person commits perjury if “with intent to deceive and with knowledge of the statement’s meaning,” they either make or swear to a false statement under oath or makes a “false unsworn declaration” asserting that a prior false statement was true. Perjury covers both oral and written statements. So if you sign a document “under penalty of perjury” that contains false statements, that is the same as giving false testimony in court while under oath.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony Perjury
Perjury is a Class A misdemeanor in Texas. This is the highest level of non-felony crime a person can be charged with in Texas. A conviction carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail, a fine of no more than $4,000, or both.
Keep in mind, perjury broadly applies to a wide variety of written statements and documents that you file with the government. For example, if you are applying for a job with the State of Texas, the job application itself may be filed under penalty of perjury. So if you lie about your credentials–say you claim to have graduated from college when you never did–that is enough of a false statement to support a potential perjury charge.
Now, lying on a job application and lying under oath in court are quite different. Indeed, the state can charge you with aggravated perjury if you intentionally make a “material” false statement “in connection with an official proceeding.” So instead of lying about your education on a job application, say you decide to lie under oath that you saw someone commit a crime. This would be considered aggravated perjury, which is a third-degree felony in Texas.
In contrast to a Class A misdemeanor, a third-degree felony can land you in prison for anywhere between 2 and 10 years. On top of that, the judge can fine you up to $10,000. A felony conviction can also lead to significant restrictions on your civil rights, including the ability to vote or own firearms.
Speak with a Texas Criminal Attorney Today
As you can see, a perjury charge is not something to be taken lightly. It is a serious crime that can lead to serious consequences. So if you are facing such allegations and need legal representation from a qualified Pearland criminal defense lawyer, contact Keith B. French Law, PLLC, today to schedule a consultation.