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Jury selection has started today in the Barry Bonds perjury trial. While the parties attempt to find an unbiased jury in San Francisco (impossible?), we're going to focus on just what makes this case so interesting.
Though steroids have played a prominent part in the slugger's legal history, he is not actually being prosecuted for illegal drug use. He is being prosecuted for lying under oath.
Surprisingly, the Barry Bonds' perjury trial is a great example of perjury and just how easy it is to prove guilt.
Perjury is obviously a crime. It is illegal to knowingly lie under oath when testifying in court or signing legal documents. Under federal statutes, perjury carries a sentence of up to 5 years in jail.
Bonds is being tried for lying under oath during the BALCO scandal that hit Major League Baseball in 2003. He told the grand jury that his trainer, Greg Anderson, had never injected him with any substance. This categorical denial is what the prosecution is focusing on.
Though prosecutors are alleging that Bonds specifically lied about being injected with steroids by Anderson, they are also alleging that he lied about ever being injected, reports Sports Illustrated. The difference in these charges is slight, but makes it incredibly more likely that Bonds will be convicted of perjury.
To prove that Bonds perjured himself in regards to the injections, prosecutors must merely demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that at one point, Bonds was injected, and that he knowingly lied about the events. There are witness statements and audio tapes that show that the event occurred, details Sports Illustrated.
However, to prove that he lied about being injected with steroids, prosecutors need to prove that he was actually injected with steroids. Additionally, the "knowingly lied" portion requires that he had actually known that he was being injected with steroids--something extremely difficult to prove.
As you can see, even though the Barry Bonds perjury trial stems from illegal steroid use, the prosecutors no longer care whether or not drugs were involved. They're all about lying under oath.
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