Lying Under Oath

felony in Phoenix - front steps of a courthouse

Lying Under Oath

Lying under oath, or committing perjury, is a pretty straightforward concept in criminal law. It is, to knowingly make false statements while under oath on the witness stand, and it’s considered a Class 4 Felony in Phoenix under ARS 13-2702, punishable by a maximum prison sentence of 3.75 years, in addition to fines. As an experienced criminal law specialist, Todd Coolidge would never advise a client to lie under oath. On occasion, criminal defendants or witnesses have been caught perjuring themselves in court. Here are a few of the most famous incidents:

1. Mark Fuhrman – 1996

You may recognize this name from one of the most notorious criminal cases America has ever witnessed: The People of the State of California v. OJ Simpson. Mark Fuhrman was the LAPD detective who provided key witness in the prosecution’s case. In an attempt to discredit his testimony, the defense took a strategy of exposing Detective Fuhrman’s habitual use of racial slurs. Fuhrman vehemently denied these charges, but ultimately was convicted of perjury and pleaded no contest. Ironically, his is the only criminal conviction in connection to this infamous case.

2. Bill Clinton – 1998

No one can forget the impeachment of President Bill Clinton by Congress as a result of his relationship to Monica Lewinsky. But contrary to popular belief, it was actually perjury and obstruction of justice that were the deciding factor in his impeachment, not his sexually immoral conduct. His famous denial where he stated, “I have never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. I’ve never had an affair with her”—while under oath—is what put the proverbial nail in the coffin for the President’s impeachment.

3. Lil’ Kim – 2005

In 2001, rapper Lil’ Kim witnessed an impassioned gunfight between her entourage and rival group Capone-N-Noreago, where dozens of shots were fired. When called by a grand jury to testify, she claimed not to have seen her manager amidst the firefight. Unfortunately, security cameras proved otherwise and she was convicted in 2005 of three counts of perjury. She served 10 months in prison and a received a $5,000 fine.

4. Marion Jones – 2007

She was dubbed “the fastest woman in the world” after winning the 100m sprint in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney Australia, along with receiving 4 other medals in track and field. But when news of using illegal performance-enhancing drugs surfaced, Jones was stripped of her medals and records. In addition to this disgrace, she committed perjury when she lied to federal agents about her use. She served a sentence of six months imprisonment and 2 years’ probation.

These cases are famous, but nevertheless, a reminder that perjury is unlawful and punishable by serving time and paying fines. If you’re facing charges of a misdemeanor or felony in Phoenix, Arizona and you need a criminal lawyer, contact Coolidge Law Firm today at (480) 264-5111. We are certified criminal law specialists with courtroom experience and a thorough knowledge of the law that you’ll need for your case.


Photo by Rob Bye on Unsplash (5/28/2018)