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What is the Law on Perjury of oath in Minnesota and What are the Punishments for it?

Perjury, in Minnesota, as in other states, is a crime and is punishable by imprisonment and fine. An individual commits Perjury when he or she knowingly lies after having taken an oath to speak only the truth about any significant matter that can influence the course of a proceeding or its outcome.

The individual can commit Perjury by giving a false statement under oath directly, or by giving inconsistent statements knowing one of them to be false.

Let us take a closer look at the specific actions that amount to Perjury in Minnesota as defined under Minnesota Statutes.

Perjury in Minnesota

According to section 609.48 of Minnesota Statutes, an individual is guilty of committing Perjury under the following conditions:

  • The individual makes a false statement with regard to material matters – matters of significance that can shape the process or result of a hearing or proceeding – knowing that the statement is false in any of the cases mentioned below:
Minnesota Perjury Law

o In a proceeding, hearing or action that, by law, requires the individual to take an oath or give an affirmation; or

o In a declaration that is given in writing and that which is required by law to be authorized to be taken under affirmation or oath; or

o Any declaration is given in writing in accordance with 358.115 that describes the specifics of applicability of an unsworn declaration made by an individual who is not physically present within the boundaries of the United States. Unsworn declaration used in this section refers to a declaration that is taken not under oath but under the penalty of Perjury.

o Any declaration is given in writing in accordance with section 358.116. This section deals with signing court documents that can amount to declarations given under oath or affirmation even when such oath or affirmation has not been administered, and the declaration is bound by the penalty of Perjury.

o Any statement is given in any case, which under law, is bound by the penalty of Perjury even if no specific sentence has been provided for the case.

  • The individual commits Perjury by giving inconsistent statements under the following conditions:

o The individual gives 2 statements that are inconsistent; and

o The individual makes one false statement with full knowledge of the fact that the statements are false at the time of making the declaration; and

o Both statements are made by the individual within the period of limitations for the crime.

Period of limitations refers to the time period within which proceedings against the individual accused of Perjury need to be initiated. The period of limitations for Perjury in Minnesota is 3 years after the commission of the crime. If the state fails to start proceedings against the individual officially within 3 years, then the state loses the right to start proceedings later.

It would be enough to prove that the individual charged under the above subsection gave one false statement knowing that one of them was false at the time of declaration. Conviction does not require determining which statement was false and proving it.


Punishments for Perjury in Minnesota

Penalty for Perjury

An individual charged with the crime of Perjury may be sentenced as follows:

  • Imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years, and/ or a fine of an amount not exceeding $14, 000, if such Perjury is committed in a proceeding for a felony charge, or during a process meant for the application for a license, or a use permit, for an explosive; or
  • Imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or a fine of an amount not exceeding $10, 000 in cases other than the above.

Inappropriate Defenses

An individual accused of Perjury under the above section cannot plead innocence subject to any of the following defenses:

  • Improper administration of oath or affirmation;
  • Incompetency of the declarant to make a statement;
  • Ignorance on the part of the accused regarding the material relevance of the statement;
  • No contribution of the accused’s statement towards influencing the process or outcome of the proceeding;
  • Ineligibility of the statement under the law of evidence.
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