The offense of perjury, more commonly known as lying under oath, prohibits false statements made during legal proceedings. Florida state laws distinguish between perjury offenses committed during official proceedings and those that happen outside of official proceedings. The following chart provides an overview of Florida perjury laws:
Florida defines an "official proceeding" as any proceeding taking place in front of a judge, magistrate, or another person who can take an individual's testimony or deposition, through a government agency, court, administrative agency, or legislative body. Examples of non-official proceedings include statements made on a marriage license application and statements made during an insurance company's routine questions in response to a claim.
To establish perjury, regardless of whether the offense occurred in an official proceeding, the prosecutor must show that the defendant took an oath to tell the truth. The oath must reflect the taker's understanding that he must speak truthfully.
In addition, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant knowingly presented a false statement as a truthful statement. If the defendant believed that the statement was truthful, the state may be unable to establish the elements of perjury.
Although some states include materiality requirements in their perjury laws, Florida is not one of those states. The prosecutor does not need to establish the materiality of the defendant's false statement in order to present the elements of perjury.
|Defenses to Perjury Charges||
Note: The truth of the statement does not excuse a defendant from a perjury charge -- as long as the defendant believed that he was offering a false statement, Florida law permits the state to prosecute the defendant for perjury.
|Penalties and Sentences||
The potential punishment for a perjury conviction depends on whether the defendant committed the offense in an official proceeding or while not in an official proceeding.
For perjury occurring as part of an official proceeding, state laws permit the prosecutor to pursue a third degree felony charge. Upon conviction, the defendant may receive a sentence of imprisonment for up to five years, a fine in an amount up to $5,000, or both.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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