Perjury – What is it, definition and concept

Perjury or perjury is the act of knowingly lying under oath. It is considered a crime and, therefore, has criminal sanctions or consequences in accordance with the regulations established in each country.

Perjury, also called false testimony, is a crime. It happens when in a trial the person who testifies under oath voluntarily lies. These people are usually the ones summoned as witnesses in a judicial process, although they are not the only ones who can commit this violation of the law.

Given that witnesses have the obligation to tell the truth, if it is proven that the person is lying conscientiously, they would be charged with a crime of perjury with the due legal consequences provided for in the criminal code of the country in question. It also applies to other affidavits.

On the contrary, it should be clarified, the accused persons in a process do not have this obligation, and the crime of perjury is not attributable to them. This, given that the refusal to answer and even lie is part of his defense.

Perjury is also a concept applied to the religious field. When oaths were made, or God was invoked so that, in a testimonial way, he would certify a certain fact, the declarant was made to swear, since a Christian theoretically would not be able to lie before his deity.

In our times, at street level, the figure of perjury is not respected. It is only reserved for the religious and judicial sphere. It is common for people to lie in their day to day life, even when they are made to swear or promise to tell the truth.

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perjury in law

Next, we are going to see how some countries regulate this figure of perjury. Fact that is reflected in their respective criminal codes.

Perjury in Spain

In Spain, false testimony is regulated in Chapter VI of Title XX of the Penal Code. Article 458 states that the ostentatious testimony in a court case has a prison sentence of six months to two years; and a fine of three to six months*. Said penalties would be increased if the false testimony was against the accused, and would be further aggravated if he were convicted.

Article 459 describes that the penalties will be greater for the experts or interpreters who fall into false testimony, as well as their disqualification from their trade between six and twelve years. Article 460 states that the inaccuracy of these professionals would also lead to a fine and suspension, but to a lesser degree.

Likewise, article 461 also punishes those who propose false witnesses. And, finally, article 462 includes the treatment received by whoever retracts the perjury previously committed throughout the process.

Perjury in Mexico

In Mexico it is also not literally called perjury, but the fact is also punished. Chapter V of Title XIII of the Criminal Code is entitled “Falsehood in judicial statements and in reports given to an authority.”

Its first article, 247, describes the penalty imposed, from two to six years in prison and a fine of one hundred to three hundred days. He also collects who are likely to commit it: interrogated by non-judicial authorities; witnesses and experts in judicial proceedings; or who bribes a witness, expert or interpreter, among others.

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For its part, article 248 provides that the witness, expert or interpreter who retracts his false statements will have his sentence reduced, remaining between 30 and 180 days of fine.

In colombia

In Colombia it is also collected as false testimony, specifically in the third chapter of title XVI of the Penal Code. Article 442 provides that it will be committed by anyone who, in a judicial or administrative action, under oath, fails to tell the truth; establishing prison sentences of between four and eight years.

Article 443 states that whoever retracts his perjury will have his sentence reduced by half. Finally, article 444 regulates the bribery of witnesses, punishing it from one to five years in prison.

*days-fine: It is a type of fine that takes into account the economic capacity of the sanctioned subject. Thus, the cost for each day of the fine will depend on the average income of the person fined. For an individual, each day of the fine can demand the payment of 100 euros and, for another, 200 euros, for example.

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