Did You Swear to Tell the Truth? What Perjury Means in Arizona

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Did You Swear to Tell the Truth? What Perjury Means in Arizona

If you are a witness in a court case, you need to be careful what you say. Violating your oath to tell the truth is a crime in Arizona, and it’s one that the courts take very seriously. It could even send you to prison.

Arizona defines perjury as intentionally making false statements under oath, with the intent to change the outcome of a legal court procedure. You can commit perjury by omitting, lying, or altering facts that are of fundamental importance to a case. 

Here’s more about Arizona’s perjury laws and when they apply.

Types of Perjury in Arizona

You are committing perjury if you knowingly try to change the outcome of a court case, administrative hearing, or deposition. You can commit perjury by lying or omitting facts in court, or by verifying false information in legal documents.

Perjury in a Court

To commit perjury in court, you must intentionally alter the facts. If you willfully make a false statement after declaring that you will tell the truth, this is perjury. Making a false statement, omitting or altering crucial facts with the intention of misleading the court is a serious crime. 

Perjury in Written Form

This is actually the most common form of perjury. It is committed by knowingly signing legal documents like a license application, affidavit, deed, or tax return, if you know that the information is false. Written perjury is also a punishable offense, and often includes additional charges like identity theft or fraud. 

Not All Lies Are Perjury

Lying under oath only counts as perjury if the altered facts are directly related to the outcome of the case. While this may sound off, technically you can lie about anything on the stand as long as it is not directly related to the material facts. 

However, lying under oath is never a good idea. If you are caught in a lie, it can be used to discredit you as a witness, or used to sway a jury’s opinion of you. 

Arizona Takes Perjury Very Seriously 

Perjury is a class 4 felony in Arizona, and it can carry a sentence of 1 to 15 years. Like all felonies, the amount of time you serve depends on several factors. Your sentence might be longer if:

  • You have previous perjury charges on record
  • You have committed any other felonies within the last two years

While perjury is often considered a soft crime, it is still a felony, and a conviction can impact your life dramatically. 

No matter how long your prison sentence is, a felony charge permanently strips you of certain civil rights and makes life significantly harder after your release. A felony can make it difficult to find employment and housing, and also disqualifies you from receiving government benefits like SNAP. 

If You Have Been Charged with Perjury, You Need a Lawyer

Don’t let a felony conviction ruin your life. Todd Coolidge is a certified criminal defense lawyer with over 25 years of experience in the Arizona justice system. With his intense work ethic and the belief that every case deserves his personal attention, you could not be in better hands. Contact us today for a consultation.




Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (9/14/23). Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash.