Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I cannot tell a lie...

Following my post on third degree felonies, a commenter asked this:

Greatly appreciate the education! Question though, on the word "aggravated" - I understand that for assaults it can mean assault with a weapon, but aggravated perjury? Would that be waving a knife around on the witness stand yelling, "I didn't do it! I didn't do it! Well, okay, I really did..."?

Correct. If you tell a lie while under oath and you are carrying a gun, driving a car, or pouring poison into someone's mouth, that makes it aggravated.


Great question, and one that actually comes up occasionally here at the office, so here's the difference between "regular" and aggravated perjury:

"Regular' perjury is when a person, "with intent to deceive and with knowledge of the statement's meaning," makes a false statement under oath or swears to the truth of a false statement previously made and "the statement is required or authorized by law to be made under oath." Penal Code 37.02.

Example: swearing to the truth of your tax form or college application.

Aggravated perjury is when you give a false statement while under oath during an official proceeding and that false statement is material. "Material" means "it could have affected the course or outcome of the official proceeding." Penal Code 37.04.

Example: lying while under oath in a trial, or while giving grand jury testimony. But note that if you lie about your age and it's not relevant to the case, this would not be aggravated perjury because it's not "material."


  1. Does this mean that all the so-called "expert witnesses" at the Houston Police Department forensic lab are subject to possible 3rd degree felony charges?


    What about an Expert Witness Malpractice lawsuit against those who do lie (or rather, don't tell the whole truth)?

  2. I'm a 50+ year old man, never arrested before, knew nothing about the legal system, grew up on a farm in the midwest, Marine Corps, advanced technical degrees. But a couple of years ago I was falsely accused and arrested. Fortunately her self-inflicted injuries were obvious even to a layman, and the forensic pathologist report was conclusive that her story was fabricated. But I was prosecuted anyway for 22 months, the alleged victim lied repeatedly, 3 deputies lied in their depositions, physical evidence disappeared, ADA asked court to supress other evidence, ADA lied to Court, ADA told my attorney she knew injuries self-inflicted, but I'd probably done 'something' in past so going to prosecute anyway. Added 3 felonies to charges then offered to drop them if plead guilty to original charges. etc, etc. Case dismissed on morning of trial. My kids tramatized, my father died of stress related stroke day before trial. After dismissal went to DA office with evidence of perjury by victim and police. ADA says 'get out of here or I will have you arrested for threatening a prosecutor'. As far as I have seen its a corrupt system and everyone involved with the law lies without conscience or remorse.


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