Massachusetts Perjury Laws and Consequences

A crime against justice doesn't inflict personal harm like an assault or damage belongings like property crimes. However, these crimes are still very harmful because they corrupt the judicial system and interfere with the administration of justice. Examples of crimes against justice include witness tampering, withholding evidence, and the offense of perjury which involves making false statements or lying under oath.

Acts that Constitute Perjury in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, perjury is committed when an individual:

1. Intentionally gives false testimony in a judicial proceeding; or
2. Deliberately gives a false statement while they're under oath.

Subornation of Perjury

If an individual incites or attempts to get another person to commit perjury, then they can be charged with subornation of perjury. A person can be guilty of this offense even if the other person didn't in fact commit perjury.

Massachusetts Perjury Laws at a Glance

When you're researching the law (especially concerning criminal matters), time is of the essence and you don't want to waste energy trying to interpret lengthy legal text. That's why the following table has been designed to provide key items found in the statutes that comprise Massachusetts perjury laws and consequences.

Statutes

Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 268:

 

Elements of Perjury

 

False Testimony

  • The individual was legally required to tell the truth in court or another judicial proceeding;
  • The individual made a statement that is material to the issue at hand (the statement tends to prove or disprove a relevant fact)
  • The statement made was false; and
  • The individual willfully and intentionally made the false statement.

False Statement Made Under Oath

  • The individual was legally required to take an oath or affirmation. However, it doesn't require court proceedings.
  • The individual made a statement in a matter related to matters where the oath or affirmation is required.
  • The statement made was false; and
  • The individual willfully and intentionally made the false statement.

Possible Defenses

  • Mistake of fact
  • Defendant believed that the statement was true.
  • The statement was not false.
  • The statement wasn't about a material issue.

Possible Penalties and Sentencing

Perjury committed while testifying at a capital trial is punishable by any term of years or life imprisonment

Perjury committed while testifying at a non-capital trial is punishable by:

  • Up to 20 years in state prison;
  • 2.5 years in the House of Correction; and/or
  • Fines up to $1,000.

Subornation of perjury is punishable by imprisonment in state prison not to exceed 5 years or in jail for not more than 1 year.

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.

Massachusetts Perjury Laws and Consequences: Related Resources

Facing Perjury Charges in Massachusetts? Find a Defense Attorney

Violating perjury laws is a serious infraction especially given the rate of frequency that Massachusetts prosecutes the crime. Whether you're facing charges or are being proactive by getting help prior to testifying under oath, talking to counsel can help you understand how the law will affect your situation. Use FindLaw's attorney directory to find an experienced criminal law attorney in your area today.

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