How to File Perjury Charges

Two Methods:Consulting an AttorneyReporting to the District Attorney

Like contempt of court and tampering with evidence, perjury is considered a crime against justice. As a crime, private citizens cannot file charges accusing anyone of perjury – only a state prosecutor or district attorney can file charges of perjury.[1] However, if you know about or have evidence that someone else committed perjury, there are steps you can take to ensure the person doesn't get away with her crimes.

Method 1
Consulting an Attorney

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    Identify the statements you believe to be perjury. You should make a list of each statement made by the other party that you believe to be false.
    • People perjure themselves if they make a false or misleading statement under oath, or sign a document that they know to contain false or misleading statements.[2] This is why legal documents you sign often contain the phrase that you are signing "under penalty of perjury" – if you knowingly lie on the document, you may be guilty of a crime.[3]
    • Federal law classifies perjury as a felony offense, as do many states.[4][5]
    • Review the four general elements of perjury so you understand what must be proven to have a successful charge of perjury.[6]
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    Find proof of the perjury. Not only do you need evidence that the statement is false, you also need evidence that the other party knew the statement was false and said it intentionally.
    • The federal government along with most states includes an additional requirement, which is that the statement must have related to a key or important fact.
    • Felonies are serious criminal matters, so you must take them seriously and not accuse someone of perjury unless you are certain all elements of the crime are present.
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    Talk to your attorney. If the perjury occurs during a court case in which you are represented by an attorney, you should alert her to the perjury as soon as possible.
    • If the false statements harm you or your case in any way, you may have an additional claim against the person in civil court.
    • On the other hand, if the false statement could potentially benefit your case, you should consider speaking to your attorney as soon as possible. If the truth gets out without your statement, you might find yourself defending against a charge that you committed subornation of perjury.[7][8]
    • Subornation of perjury involves convincing someone else to testify falsely on your behalf.
    • If you find yourself charged with subornation of perjury, keep in mind that merely knowing that the other person lied is not enough for a conviction. The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you actively convinced the person to do it.[9][10]
    • If your attorney doesn't have any criminal law experience, you should consider talking to one who does to get additional advice regarding your perjury claim. An attorney may decide your claim isn't actionable or worth pursuing, but an attorney skilled in criminal law typically is better placed to make that decision than you are.[11]
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    Choose an attorney who best represents your interests. If you are not already represented by an attorney, you probably should find one who will protect your interests.
    • Perjury is considered a very serious crime and the outcome of a perjury case impacts the reputation and integrity of the legal system.[12] If you discover perjury, you must take steps to reveal the act as quickly as possible.
    • If a perjury charge is considered actionable, it is best to be represented by an attorney who can help guide you through the process.[13]
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    Work with your attorney on strategies to combat the perjury. Your attorney may want to discuss the matter with the judge, or bring the party back on the stand and question him about the perjury.
    • Even if it isn't practical to charge the person criminally for perjury, there may be strategies your attorney can use to limit the effects of the perjured witness and their statements.
    • For example, if your spouse lies about his income during a divorce proceeding, you may be able to acquire documents or witnesses to counter his claim. When confronted with the contradictory information, your spouse may be convinced to alter his statement accordingly.

Method 2
Reporting to the District Attorney

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    Gather information about the perjury. Review the elements of perjury and find as much proof as you can for each element of the crime.
    • You must find evidence that the party making the statement knew it was false, and that she intended to mislead others by saying it.[14]
    • The statement also must concern a key fact. If someone has lied about something that turns out to be inconsequential to the matter at hand, she is unlikely to be found guilty of perjury.[15]
    • Generally, the statement must have been made to protect the defendant or to alter the outcome of the case in the person's favor.
    • Keep in mind that it is extremely difficult to prove that someone intentionally attempted to mislead the judge or jury by lying under oath.[16]
    • Proving intent makes perjury so difficult to prove.[17] If someone is willing to lie under oath, they probably also are willing to lie to defend themselves against felony charges.
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    Compile your statement. Organize your evidence and information before you contact the district attorney.
    • Keep in mind that if the DA decides to prosecute, she will have to prove her case beyond a reasonable doubt. If you intend to go to the DA, make sure you have as much information about the perjury as possible.[18]
    • If you have any documents or other individuals that can back up your claim, consider including them in your statement.
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    Determine which DA to contact. The district attorney's office may have different sections, so you need to find the DA who handles perjury cases.
    • Depending on the county where you live, you may need to call the police department rather than the prosecutor's or DA's office. If you find a general contact number, the representative should be able to direct you.
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    Explain your situation to the DA. Have your statement ready along with any evidence or information that backs up your claim.
    • You will need to answer all questions asked of you, including the name and contact information of the person you've accused of perjury, as well as details about the context in which the person committed perjury.
    • Make sure to provide the DA with your own contact information, so they can reach you if they have any further questions or need more information to prosecute the case.
    • Understand that the DA has discretion and may not file charges, even if you believe you have an open and shut case.[19]
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    Cooperate with any follow-up questions. If the DA chooses to file perjury charges, be ready to provide any additional information to assist the DA with her case.
    • If convicted, federal and most state laws provide for fines or imprisonment up to five years. However, judges have broad discretion in imposing punishment.[20]
    • Being convicted of perjury also can interfere with the person's later ability to obtain other employment, professional licenses, or a security clearance.[21]

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Categories: Official Writing and Complaints | Criminal and Penal Law Procedure