Perjury and False Swearing – lying under Oath of Office, in an Affidavit, in a judicial proceeding or administrative proceeding, or to an Insurer

     This page is continued from Criminal Law Self-Help >>>> Types of Crimes and Corresponding Laws >>>> Color of Law Crimes >>>> False Statements, Writings, Concealments, etc. from Government Employees:



1. The act or an instance of a person’s deliberately making material false or misleading statements while under oath; especially, the willful utterance of untruthful testimony under oath or affirmation, before a competent tribunal, on a point material to the adjudication. — aka false swearing; false oath; falsehood; (archaically) forswearing.  See FALSEHOOD.  Cf. MENDACITY. — perjuror, n. [1]

1. Wilful and corrupt false swearing or affirming, after an oath lawfully administered, in the course of a judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding as to some matter material to the issue or point in question. 41 Am J1st Perj §2.

In a broader sense, wilful false swearing in regard to any matter or thing respecting which an oath is required or even authorized by law. State v Miller, 26 RI 282, 58 A 882.

False statements of a witness, made in open court are not the subject of perjury, where they have been corrected before the case was submitted. State v Ledford, 195 Wash 531, 81 P2d 330. [2]

1. Giving false testimony in a judicial proceeding or an administrative proceeding; lying under oath as to a material fact; swearing to the truth of anything one knows or believes to be false.  Perjury is a crime.  A person who makes a false affirmation is equally a perjurer.
     Compare false swearing.
     See subordination of perjury. [3]

     Excerpt from Edward Bullingbrooke’s The Duty and Authority of Justices of the Peace and Parish Officers for Ireland (rev. ed. 1788):

     “Perjury by the common law, seemeth to be a wilful false oath, by one who being lawfully required to depose the truth in any judicial proceeding, swears absolutely, in a matter material to the point in question, whether he be believed or not. [4]

false swearing:

1. See perjury.

1. Knowingly and intentionally stating upon oath that which is not true; swearing corruptly, or willfully and knowingly deposing falsely in a sworn statement before some officer authorized to administer an oath, concerning some fact. Schoenfeld v State, 56 Tex Crim 103, 119 SW 101.

Distinguished from perjury under the common law in the respect that false oath in perjury must be made in a judicial proceeding. whereas in false swearing it need not be made in such a proceeding. 41 Am J1st Perj § 3.

As a matter of defense to an insurer, “false swearing“ means false statements willfully made with respect to a material matter and with the intention of deceiving the insurer thereby. 29A Am J Rev ed lns § 1419. [2]

1. Knowingly and intentionally stating under oath, but not necessarily in court, that which is not true.  EXAMPLE: laying in an affidavit. [3]

Related Terms:

perjure vb. 1. To make (oneself) culpable of deliberately making material false or misleading statements while under oath . 2. (In a passive sense) to become involved in, or proved to be guilty of, perjury.

perjured adj. (17c) 1. Who has perjured himself or herself; guilty of perjury <a perjured witness>. 2. Suggesting or characterized by perjury <a perjured countenance>. — perjurious, adj.

perjury-trap doctrine (1989) The principle that an indictment for perjury must be dismissed if prosecutors have secured it by haling the defendant before a grand jury as a witness in an attempt to get the evidence necessary for a perjury charge, particularly if the witness’s testimony is not materially related to an ongoing grand-jury investigation.  *  The perjury-trap doctrine does not apply if there was a legitimate basis for an investigation and for particular questions that were answered falsely. [1]

Perjurii poena divina, exitium; humana dedecus – The divine punishment of perjury is death; the human punishment, disgrace. See 4 Bl Comm 139.

Perjuri sunt qui servatis verbis juramenti decipiunt aures eorum qui accipiunt – They are perjured who, by preserving the words of the oath, deceive the ears of those who receive it. [2]


Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is compiled in accordance with Fair Use.

[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[4]: Edward Bullingbrooke, The Duty and Authority of Justices of the Peace and Parish Officers for Ireland 598 (rev. ed. 1788)


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