What is the Law on Perjury of oath in Ohio and what are the Punishments for it?
Perjury is a criminal offense comprising of making incorrect statements while under oath verbally or in writing, which the person knows is false. The lie should be also material to the particular proceeding wherein such statement is made. As such, the definition of this criminal offense is not as simple as many people would like to believe. Perjury needs evidence of more than simply a false statement under oath or during a court proceeding. To put it simply, an individual should make an incorrect statement with the intention to defraud.
According to federal law, there are two kinds of perjury. Also, each of these has several elements. The law states that the first kind of perjury is about making statements under oath. It needs the following proof:
- An individual took the oath to honestly certify, depose, declare, or testify in writing or verbally
- The person was aware that the statement was false
- The statement made by the person was not true
- The statement’s subject matter was material for the proceeding wherein it was made; and
- The false statement was made by a person willfully.
On the other hand, the second form of perjury includes unsworn statements. It needs the following proof:
- Such a statement was uttered “under penalty of perjury”
- An individual uttered an unsworn declaration according to the federal law
- The statement’s subject matter was material; and
- The statement was made willfully by a person even when they knew it to be true
Meanwhile, state laws have defined perjury in the line of the federal statute. For instance, the perjury law of Ohio defines this crime as knowingly stating an incorrect statement when the person was under affirmation or oath. The law further adds that even though a person in question had a mistaken belief that it is immaterial to make a false statement; it cannot act as a defense for them in Ohio.
However, a majority of perjury statutes in the United States of America need evidence that an individual behaved so with the knowledge that the statement was false. While the federal law needs that an individual acted “willfully”, the statute in Ohio mentions that an individual should have acted “knowingly”.
A defendant can claim that he/she thought the statement was true and so they were not in the mental state required.
The Perjury Statute in Ohio
- No individual in any kind of official proceeding will knowingly say a false statement while under affirmation, or oath, or knowingly affirm or swear the correctness of any kind of false statement made earlier if either of their statement is material.
- A falsification is considered material, irrespective of whether it is admissible in evidence, or not, in case it can have an effect on the outcome or course of the proceeding. The defendant cannot have a defense as per this section that they mistakenly thought such falsification was not material.
- In Ohio, there is no defense available to the accused under this particular section that the affirmation or oath was taken or administered in an irregular way.
- If the accused made contradictory statements pertaining to a material fact under affirmation or oath, it is nonessential for the prosecution in question to establish whether any statement was false or not.
- A person shall not be held guilty for the violation of this particular law wherein the proof of falsity exclusively depends upon contraction in the testimony made by one individual apart from the defendant.
In Ohio, if a person is found violating this section, he/she shall be held guilty of perjury and is said to have committed the third-degree felony and will be penalized accordingly.