Texas criminal courts often use sworn testimony from law enforcement officers, witnesses and the defendant as a basis for their verdicts and associated sentences. Those who knowingly mislead the court in an attempt to sway the judge or a jury into making a certain decision may be accused of perjury.
When people commit perjury, they make false statements while under oath or they sign a misleading document. This information may conflict with other types of evidence, including financial records, footage from security cameras or other similar types of evidence. A person who is convicted of perjury may face a prison sentence of up to five years or be fined under federal law. In Texas, perjury is a “Class A” misdemeanor carry punishments that include a maximum fine of up to $4,000 and one year in prison.
In order to be convicted of perjury, however, prosecutors must be able to prove that the accused person was intentionally lying or attempting to mislead the court. For example, if a witness was testifying in a robbery case and unknowing got some of the key facts wrong, such as the assailant’s exact appearance, it is unlikely that the witness would be accused of perjury unless it was proven that they were attempting to help the assailant.
When people are accused of lying to the court when they are involved in a criminal case, the consequences can be serious. A criminal defense attorney may help defendants to gather evidence that shows that they were not intentionally lying. The attorney may argue that the defendant did not intend to deceive the court or that a mistake was made when testifying.