New York Perjury charges stem from making a false statement under oath. Under New York Penal Law, there are three different perjury charges. Specifically, they are:

  • Perjury in the First Degree (PL 210.05);
  • Perjury in the Second Degree (PL 210.10);
  • Perjury in the Third Degree (PL 210.15).

Perjury in the First Degree is the most serious of the New York perjury charges and Perjury in the Third Degree is the least serious. The difference between these charges is explained below.

New York Perjury Charges Explained

New York Perjury in the Third Degree

Perjury in the Third Degree is codified in New York Penal Law Section 210.05. Under New York Penal Law Section 210.05, a person is guilty of Perjury in the Third Degree when he falsely swears.

What Does it Mean to Falsely Swear?

The term “swear falsely” has a special legal definition for New York Perjury charges. The definition of this term comes from New York Penal Law Section 210.00(5) and states that a person swears falsely when s/he intentionally makes a false statement which s/he does not believe to be true:

  • While giving testimony, OR
  • Under oath in a subscribed written instrument.

Importantly, a false statement under oath in a subscribed written instrument shall not be deemed complete until the instrument is delivered to another person with intent that it be uttered or published as true.

Penalties and Sentencing for Perjury in the Third Degree

Perjury in the Third Degree is a Class “A” misdemeanor. As such, this charge is punishable by:

  • Up to 1 year in prison;
  • Probation
  • Conditional discharge (with conditions imposed by the court – i.e. community service);
  • Unconditional discharge;
  • Time served.

New York Perjury in the Second Degree

The charge of Perjury in the Second Degree is codified in New York Penal Law Section 210.10. Under New York Penal Law Section 210.10, a person is guilty of perjury in the Second Degree when s/he swears falsely and when the false statement is:

  1. Made in a subscribed written instrument for which an oath is required by law, AND
  2. Made with intent to mislead a public servant in the performance of his official functions, AND
  3. Material to the action, proceeding or matter involved.

Sentencing and Penalties for Perjury in the Second Degree

Perjury in the Second Degree is a Class “E” Non-violent Felony. As such, this charge is punishable by:

  • An indeterminate sentence up to 1 1/3 to 4 years in jail;
  • A determinate sentence of 1 year jail or less;
  • A split sentence (jail term followed by probation);
  • Probation;
  • Conditional Discharge (with conditions imposed by the Court)

New York Perjury in the First Degree

Perjury in the First Degree is the most serious out of New York Perjury charges. It is codified in New York Penal Law Section 210.15. Under New York Penal Law Section 210.15, a person is guilty of Perjury in the First Degree when s/he swears falsely and when his false statement:

  1. Consists of testimony, AND
  2. Is material to the action, proceeding or matter in which it is made.

Sentencing and Penalties for Perjury in the First Degree

Perjury in the First Degree is a Class “D” Non-violent Felony. As such this charge is punishable by:

  • An indeterminate sentence up to 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison; OR
  • A determinate sentence up to 1 year in jail (if there are mitigating circumstances); OR
  • Probation (if there are mitigating circumstances).

Proof Required for Prosecution for Perjury

In order to prosecute someone for perjury, the following elements are required:

  1. Two statements made under oath, which are inconsistent to a degree that one of them is necessarily false; AND
  2. Each statement, if false, is perjuriously so; AND
  3. Each statement was made within the jurisdiction of this state and within the period of the statute of limitations for the crime charged.

What if the Prosecutor Cannot Prove Which of the Statements is False for New York Perjury Charges?

The inability of the prosecutor to establish which of the two statements is false, does not preclude a prosecution for perjury in New York. However, the following requirements must be met in this situation under New York Penal Law Section 210.20:

  1. The indictment or information must set forth both statements, without specifying which is false and perjuriously made;
  2. The falsity of one or both of these statements may be established by proof that the statements are inconsistent;
  3. The highest degree of perjury of which Defendant can be convicted of is the lesser degree of the two charges if the perjury charge for the two statements is of different degrees.

Good Defenses to New York Perjury Prosecutions

Under New York law, it is an affirmative defense to perjury charges that the Defendant retracted his or her false statement in the course of the proceeding, before such false statement substantially affected the proceeding and before it became manifest that its falsity was or would be exposed.

Bad Defenses to New York Perjury Prosecutions

New York Penal Law Section 210.30, specifically provides that the following are NOT defenses to perjury prosecutions:

  1. The defendant was not competent to make the false statement alleged; OR
  2. The defendant mistakenly believed the false statement to be immaterial; OR
  3. The oath was administered or taken in an irregular manner or that the authority or jurisdiction of the attesting officer who administered the oath was defective, if such defect was excusable under any statute or rule of law.

Immigration Consequences of Perjury Charges

Perjury is considered a crime of moral turpitude for immigration purposes. As such, if you are not a United States citizen, you may have immigration consequences as a result of your conviction and potentially as a result of your arrest alone. As such, it is essential that immigration consequences of your perjury arrest and your potential plea are explored.

Contact New York Perjury Attorneys Regarding Your Case

If you or your loved one has been charged with perjury, you need experienced counsel by your side. Contact us today to schedule your consultation to go over your case.