Perjury can be charged as a felony and perjury laws are strictly enforced in the state of Florida. It is important to retain a Miami criminal defense attorney as soon as you or family member is charged with perjury under Florida statute §837.012 or §837.02. An individual who violates Florida’s perjury laws may be convicted and sentenced up to (15) years of imprisonment in the Florida prison system. At Pagan & Stroleny, P.L. we defend clients alleged to have violated Florida’s perjury laws and we know how to attack a perjury case. Former prosecutors Christopher Pagan, Esq. and Julian Stroleny, Esq. have the experience required to successfully defend allegations of perjury whether it occurred outside of an official proceeding or during an official proceeding, and will always work hard to defend your case.
Perjury While Not Part of an Official Proceeding
Under Florida Statute 837.012(1) perjury when not in an official proceeding is described as “whoever makes a false statement, while he or she does not believe it to be true, under oath, not in an official proceeding, in regard to any material matter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.” Notably, because knowledge of the materiality of the statement is not an element of perjury, the defendant’s mistaken belief that his/her statement was not material is not a defense to a perjury charge. Meaning, even if the defendant lacked knowledge that the false statement was going to have a material (significant effect on the proceeding) he or she can still be convicted of perjury.
In Florida, the potential punishment for a perjury charge while not part of an official proceeding is a first degree misdemeanor and can result in a term of imprisonment for up to one year, a fine in an amount up to $1000, or both.
Perjury in an Official Proceeding
Under Florida Statute 837.02(1) perjury in an official proceeding is described as “whoever makes a false statement, which he or she does not believe it to be true, under oath in an official proceeding in regard to any material, commits a felony of the third degree.” However, if the individual makes a false statement under oath in an official proceeding relating to the prosecution of a capital felony, then he/she has committed a felony of the second degree. It is important to note that knowledge of the materiality of the statement is not an element of a perjury charge in third degree or second degree, and the defendant’s mistaken belief that the statement was not material is not a defense to a perjury charge.
In the State of Florida perjury in an official proceeding may be penalized or sentenced as:
- A felony of the second degree is punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding (15) years, a fine in an amount up to $10,000, or both.
- A felony of the third degree is punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding (5) years, a fine in an amount up to $5000, or both.
To establish perjury, the state prosecutor must provide evidence that shows the defendant took an oath to tell the truth and that while doing so, the defendant understood that he had the duty to speak truthfully. The state must also prove that the defendant knowingly presented a false statement as a true statement. However, if the defendant believed that his/her statement was truthful then the state may be unable to establish the elements of a perjury charge.
Defenses to Perjury Charges
Every perjury case is unique in its own personal factors and thus, it is impossible to list all of the possible defenses to a perjury charge. However, below are some of the most popular defenses.
In Florida, even though the defendant might have stated a truthful statement, the truth of the statement does not excuse a defendant from a perjury charge. If the defendant believed that he was making a false statement, Florida law allows the state to prosecute the defendant for perjury. Furthermore, defending a perjury charge requires an understanding of complex defenses that are unique to these type of cases. Contacting a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, FL early on in the process ensures that you are not missing out on certain defenses that may not be available further in the proceeding.
A perjury charge can have a severe impact on anyone that is accused of such a crime and it is significant to seek out an experienced criminal defense attorney to inform you of your rights and guide you every step of the way. Don’t go through these though times alone. As former prosecutors, Pagan & Stroleny, P.L. attorneys have defended numerous cases ranging from DUIs to violent homicide crimes. Therefore, they have the experience and knowledge necessary to successfully defend an allegation of perjury against you or a family member. Perjury, whether it occurs outside of an official proceeding or in an official proceeding is a serious charge that requires serious representation. Contact us today for a free consultation and see what Pagan & Stroleny, P.L. can do for you.