Perjury in the first degree is the crime where people knowingly make a false statement while under oath in any official proceeding. The offense is a serious felony under Washington law that is punishable by up to a decade in prison. If you or a loved one is facing a perjury charge, it is critical for you to contact a skilled defense attorney now for help.
How Does Washington Law Define Perjury?
RCW 9A.72.020 is the Washington statute that defines the crime of perjury in the first degree. People commit this offense if they:
- Knowingly make a materially false statement while under oath, and
- Do so in the course of any official proceeding.
A few definitions here are helpful:
- A “materially false statement” means any statement, oral or written, which could affect the course of the proceeding in which the statement was made,
- An “oath” means a person giving a statement that he/she intends to tell the truth, and
- An “official proceeding” means a proceeding heard before any legislative, judicial, administrative, or other government agency or official authorized to hear evidence under oath.
What are the Penalties?
First degree perjury is a Class B felony (as opposed to a misdemeanor). The crime is punishable by:
- Custody in state prison for up to 10 years, and/or
- A maximum fine of $20,000.
Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?
The good news is that defendants accused of first degree perjury can challenge the accusation with a legal defense. For example, an accused can always contest a charge by showing that:
- His/her statement was not “material,”
- He/she did not make a false statement while under “oath,” and
- He/she did not make a statement in an “official proceeding.”
Note, too, that a defendant can always use the defense that he/she did not know that a statement was false. For example, maybe a defendant was confused of certain facts and made a false statement by accident.
Contact Black & Askerov for Help
While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a perjury charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced perjury attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 25 years of combined experience defending clients on perjury charges. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these types of cases. Our attorneys will fight tooth and nail for you at every step of your case. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!