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Perjury is a widely used legal term, but the fact of the matter is it not a particularly common criminal charge. When the state or federal government does charge perjury though, the cases are taken extremely seriously. Judges and prosecutors often view perjury cases as a slap in the face to the judicial system, and seek harsh punishments for those who are convicted. Defendants who are charged with perjury are often treated unfairly by the judicial system, but retaining an experienced Florida perjury lawyer can put the odds back in your favor. Benjamin Herbst is a South Florida criminal defense lawyer who specializes in perjury cases in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County. He is also an experienced Treasure Coast perjury lawyer for clients facing charges in Martin and St. Lucie County. Benjamin is available 7 days a week to offer a free legal consultation at (954) 543-0305, and has flexible meeting hours at his Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach office locations. Contact Benjamin anytime to learn what defenses may be available in your case.
Before getting into the types of perjury charges it is important to understand exactly what perjury means. Under Florida law and under federal law perjury only applies to statements that were made under oath, which was administered by an authorized person. This typically means judges, but could also mean notaries, hearing officers, administrative judges, commissioners and any person taking a deposition in a legal proceeding. Court reporters are authorized to take oaths in criminal and civil depositions, so testimony given in a deposition is subject to perjury in Florida. Perjury does not apply to statements to law enforcement officers not under oath, as this would constitute a separate charge of making a false statement to a law enforcement officer. Additionally, perjury only applies to material matters to the proceeding. This means that lying about an irrelevant fact would not be grounds for criminal charges under Florida law. Keep in mind though that if the immaterial or irrelevant statement later becomes material it may apply to potential perjury prosecution. It is not a defense that the defendant did not know the immaterial fact would become material.
There are two main types of perjury offenses under Florida law, and the potential penalties depend on where the alleged perjury took place. The most serious type of perjury in Florida is lying under oath in official proceedings. Official proceedings are defined as matters heard before a legislative, judicial, administrative or governmental agency. These are typically formal hearings that take place in courts, hearing rooms or other proceedings on government property. Any deposition that is part of an official proceeding, such as a criminal deposition, counts as testimony in an official proceeding. This is true regardless of where the deposition took place, and thus most perjury charges are related to an official proceeding. Perjury in official proceedings is classified as a third-degree felony under Florida law, and the consequences could include a permanent felony conviction and the real possibility of a jail sentence. The one exception to this law is that lying about a material fact during the course of a capital felony trial or other official proceeding is classified as a second-degree felony. Perjury in an unofficial proceeding is still a serious offense, but is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. Regardless of the type of charge, Benjamin Herbst is a South Florida perjury lawyer who is dedicated to providing his clients with compete representation the moment he is retained. This means Benjamin fights to have the charges dropped or reduced outside of court, and will not hesitate to argue for his clients in front of a Florida jury. Benjamin also provides all clients with his cell phone number, and is available to provide updates on the progress of the case on nights and weekends. He understands the stress that a criminal charge brings to defendants and their families, and is never too busy to offer counseling at every stage of the case. Contact Benjamin at 95-543-0305 and start fighting back against the state or federal government in your Florida perjury case.