Australia's #1 for Law
Join 150,000 Australians every month. Ask a question, respond to a question and better understand the law today!
FREE - Join Now
Perjury is the intentional act of swearing a false oath or falsifying an affirmation to tell the truth, whether spoken or in writing, concerning matters material to an official proceeding. In some jurisdictions, contrary to popular misconception, no crime has occurred when a false statement is (intentionally or unintentionally) made while under oath or subject to penalty. Instead, criminal culpability attaches only at the instant the declarant falsely asserts the truth of statements (made or to be made) that are material to the outcome of the proceeding. For example, it is not perjury to lie about one's age except if age is a fact material to influencing the legal result, such as eligibility for old age retirement benefits or whether a person was of an age to have legal capacity.
Perjury is considered a serious offense, as it can be used to usurp the power of the courts, resulting in miscarriages of justice. In the United States, for example, the general perjury statute under federal law classifies perjury as a felony and provides for a prison sentence of up to five years. The California Penal Code allows for perjury to be a capital offense in cases causing wrongful execution. Perjury which caused the wrongful execution of another or in the pursuit of causing the wrongful execution of another is respectively construed as murder or attempted murder, and is normally itself punishable by execution in countries that retain the death penalty. Perjury is considered a felony in most U.S. states as well as most Australian states. In Queensland, under Section 124 of the Queensland Criminal Code Act 1899, perjury is punishable by up to life in prison if it is committed to procure an innocent person for a crime that is punishable by life in prison. However, prosecutions for perjury are rare. In some countries such as France and Italy, suspects cannot be heard under oath or affirmation and so cannot commit perjury, regardless of what they say during their trial.
The rules for perjury also apply when a person has made a statement under penalty of perjury even if the person has not been sworn or affirmed as a witness before an appropriate official. An example is the US income tax return, which, by law, must be signed as true and correct under penalty of perjury (see 26 U.S.C. § 6065). Federal tax law provides criminal penalties of up to three years in prison for violation of the tax return perjury statute. See: 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1)
Statements that entail an interpretation of fact are not perjury because people often draw inaccurate conclusions unwittingly or make honest mistakes without the intent to deceive. Individuals may have honest but mistaken beliefs about certain facts or their recollection may be inaccurate, or may have a different perception of what is the accurate way to state the truth. Like most other crimes in the common law system, to be convicted of perjury one must have had the intention (mens rea) to commit the act and to have actually committed the act (actus reus). Further, statements that are facts cannot be considered perjury, even if they might arguably constitute an omission, and it is not perjury to lie about matters that are immaterial to the legal proceeding.
In the United States, Kenya, Scotland and several other English-speaking Commonwealth nations, subornation of perjury, which is attempting to induce another person to commit perjury, is itself a crime.

View More On
  1. T

    Perjury - Non admission DVO

    I consented with out admission to a DVO. The only evedence was text messages non abusive or threatening. The text were us arguing about access to the kids. However in tge application my ex has accused me of having a history of DV which is not true and false allegations. She has shown the non...
  2. I

    QLD Would police take action if I complain about a false affidavit?

    I am in N.S.W. To cut a long dog story short I had two valuable working dogs stolen just before the border between N.S.W. and Qld was closed and I was then unable to travel to Queensland to make a complaint to police and retrieve my dogs. During Covid all I could do was try to find out if my...
  3. cakeforbreakfast

    QLD How to win a case when noble cause corruption is rife?

    The common law enforcement practice of noble cause corruption My concern in this post relates specifically to the power to stop and search and how can one achieve justice when corruption is rife. The standard seems to be to search and fabricate suspicion if required rather search based on a...
  4. M

    VIC FVIO Applications weaponised in Family Law to stop SRL from direct cross examination

    My ex is highly regarded in family law. He applied for an IVO against me in 2019 to try and stop me from directly cross examining him in our family law proceedings. He accepted a final FVIO without admissions, and I fought his application at every stage until he withdrew it as part of his...
  5. A

    WA Does anyone get charged with Perjury in Family court?

    If someone makes extreme and provably false accusations in family court are they likely to be punished criminally?
  6. K

    QLD Perjury - Magistrates Court Civil Claim

    I have a Civil Claim for 'debt' in the Magistrates Court. The defendant, in their filed Defence of the Claim, has knowingly made a false statement which I can prove to be false via documentation. The question being, does that false statement represent 'perjury' or does it need to get into the...
  7. A


    Hi There Could you let me know which court hears the cases of Perjury in WA? My ex-wife got a FVRO a few month ago based on false allegations. I applied for cancelling the order .She didn't show up twice and the magistrate heard my reasoning and cancelled the order but she got another one the...
  8. J

    VIC Employer commits perjury and subornation of perjury

    If staff members commit perjury as part of their employment (large company), will Employer defend him? Or are these people personally liable? False statements were written and spoken as part of witness statements. It was done under oath. There is material evidence proving the perjury. Decision...
  9. Hmm

    Ex partner is contesting my FVRO making false accusations about me, is this perjury?

    He is doing this to try and get the FVRO cancelled so is he committing perjury? My court hearing is this coming week as he summoned the final hearing date to be earlier than expected. He has had 4 breaches of the VRO already and I will submit those as evidence as well I’ve had communications...
  10. E

    False information in affidavit and financial statement

    hi, we are trying to do a property settlement and my ex partner has provided MANY false information in his affidavit and MANY false information in his form 13 financial statement and undeclared income. He also has withdrawn money and given it to his family members and pretend to purchase assets...