Perjury Always Spells Trouble in Oklahoma
Sometimes, people lie under oath. Let’s face it, it can be frightening to tell the truth when that truth will get you or a loved one into trouble, or further into trouble. But lying under oath — or perjury — in Oklahoma is never a good idea.
The old adage is that an attorney never asks a question that they don’t already know the answer to. If you lie, an attorney will know it, and the outcome for you could be harsh.
In Oklahoma, perjury is defined as making a statement under oath or affirmation or other legally binding assertion, that you know or do not believe to be true to avoid or obstruct the truth. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 491
The statement can be oral or written. If an attorney drafts an affidavit for you and you sign it under penalty of perjury knowing that it contains a false statement, you will have committed perjury. If you lie on the witness stand, or in a deposition, you could be convicted.
If the statement is true, there is no crime. Thus, truth is an absolute defense.
Opinions also can be protected. If you answer a question from your own knowledge or according to your opinion, it is not perjury. So if you are asked if you own a marijuana plant and you answer “no” because you do not believe the plant to be marijuana, there is no crime.
However, if you answer a question holding one opinion, but testifying to another, perjury exists and you could be prosecuted.
While this may seem convoluted, it is important to know that the perjury laws are in place to protect the judicial system. They are meant to encourage witnesses to tell the truth to the best of their ability. Society and the judicial process suffer when a witness says what someone else wants them to say instead of what they really think or believe to be true.
Finally, perjury is a crime of intent. You statement must either be known or believed by you to be untrue when made or you made the statement with to avoid or obstruct the intent the determination of the truth. (OUJI-CR 3-18)
If the crime is committed on the trial of an indictment for a felony crime in Oklahoma, you could be sentenced from two to 20 years in jail. If the perjury is committed in any other trial proceeding, you could be sentenced to from one to 10 years in jail. In all other cases, the penalty is up to five years in prison. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 500
If you are convicted of perjury, you could spend years in jail. Resist the urge to lie under oath. And if you are facing charges for perjury, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. There are defenses available to you that you should discuss with your attorney.
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