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What Is the Law on Perjury of Oath in Florida and What Are the Punishments for It?

Florida Statutes classifies Perjury depending on whether or not such act was committed in an official proceeding.

An official proceeding includes any proceeding that is underway, or has been heard, or will be heard, by any agency that has a judicial, legislative or administrative authority, or by any governmental agency, or by an official with the authority to obtain evidence from a witness under oath.

The authorized official mentioned in the above context can include a commissioner, hearing officer or examiner, notary, special or general magistrate, or any individual authorized to take evidence, or obtain depositions, under oath, from witnesses, in matters related to any such proceeding as mentioned above.

Let us examine how Florida Statutes describes Perjury.

Florida Perjury Law

Perjury Related to Non-Official Proceedings

According to section 837.012, an individual is guilty of Perjury in a non-official proceeding under the following conditions:

  • The individual gives a statement that is false and one that the individual does not believe to be a fact, under oath, and
  • The individual gives such a false statement regarding a material matter associated with such non-official proceeding.

The individual, upon conviction, under the above section, is punishable for committing a first-degree misdemeanor. The crime is punishable by imprisonment for a term, not more than 1 year or a fine of $1,000.

Perjury Related to Official Proceedings

According to section 837.02, an individual is guilty of committing Perjury in proceedings that are official under Florida Statutes for the purpose of Perjury, under the following conditions:

  • The individual gives a statement that is untrue with full knowledge that such a statement is false, under oath, with regard to the material matter concerning the official proceeding, or
  • The individual gives a statement under oath that is untrue with full knowledge of the falsity regarding any material matter concerning an official proceeding for the prosecution of the crime of capital felony.

If charged with a crime described in the first subsection of Perjury, then the individual is guilty of committing a third-degree felony, which is punishable by imprisonment for a term of 5 years or a fine of $5,000.

If charged with the crime described in the second subsection of Perjury, then the individual is guilty of committing a second-degree felony, which is punishable by imprisonment for a term of 15 years or a fine of $10,000.

In the case of habitual offenders, penalties according to section 775.084 may also apply.

Florida Perjury Law
Perjury through Contradictory Statements

According to section 837.021, an individual is guilty of committing Perjury through contradictory statements under the following conditions:

  • The individual, knowingly, under oath, gives two or more contradictory statements pertaining to a material matter in one or more proceedings that are official under the Florida Statutes for the purpose of Perjury, or
  • The individual, knowingly, under oath, gives 2 or more contradictory statements regarding a material matter in one or more proceedings, an official under the Florida Statutes for the purpose of Perjury, that is connected to the prosecution of a crime of capital Felony.

In case of conviction for commission of an offense described in the first subsection of the above section, the individual is guilty of committing a third-degree felony, which is punishable by imprisonment for a term of 5 years or a fine of $5,000.

In case of conviction under the second subsection of the above section, the individual is guilty of committing a second-degree felony, which is punishable by imprisonment for a period of 15 years or a fine of $10, 000.

In the case of habitual offenders, penalties according to section 775.084 may also apply.

Scope of the Terms Oath and Material Facts

The term “Oath” used in the above sections includes affirmation statements and all other forms of evidence as authorized or required by law, through means of which the individual accepts that he or she is bound by law or conscience to give evidence that is truthful in any official or non-official proceeding.

The term “material matter” can be any subject pertaining to the official or non-official proceeding in context, which while may or may not be admissible as evidence according to rules of the law for evidence, has the capability to influence the outcome of the proceeding.


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