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New Jersey Perjury Laws

You and your best friend are out shopping when you notice your friend quickly and discreetly tuck a $350 watch into his pants. He gives you the universal sign for silence, after which you both look around to make sure no one saw you. Sure enough, someone must have seen something because you both are detained by an off-duty officer as you attempt to walk out of the store. Your friend is charged with shoplifting and you are subpoenaed by the prosecution as a witness. You don't want to get busted for your friend's actions, so you tell the prosecutor under oath that you had no idea he was shoplifting. Problem is, security camera footage clearly shows your involvement in the crime.

Since you wrote the false statement asserting your non-involvement in the crime, you have just committed perjury. That means you may be facing time in prison for perjury in addition to any charges related to being an accomplice to your friend's crime.

Perjury may not seem like a big deal at first glance, but a functioning justice system requires a certain level of honesty. The following is a summary of New Jersey's perjury laws.

New Jersey Perjury Laws at a Glance


New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice 2C § 28-1

Statutory Definition of Perjury

A person is guilty of perjury if in any official proceeding he makes a false statement under oath or equivalent affirmation, or swears or affirms the truth of a statement previously made, when the statement is material and he does not believe it to be true.

Crime Classifications, Sentences, and Penalties

  • Perjury in General: Crime in the 3rd Degree (between 3 and 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000).
  • Affirming a Previous Statement Known to be False as True (False Swearing): Crime in the 4th Degree (up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000).
  • Making Written False Statement Pursuant to Certain Forms: Crime in the 4th Degree.
  • Attempt to Mislead Public Servants: Disorderly persons offense (up to 6 months in jail and/or fine of up to $1,000).

Defenses to Perjury Charges

  • Did not knowingly make false statement
  • False statement made under duress
  • Statement was not false
  • You were not under oath
  • False statement was not material
  • You recanted your false statement

Related Offenses

  • Falsely Incriminating Another: To knowingly give or cause to be given false information to any law enforcement officer with purpose to implicate another (Crime in the 3rd Degree; Crime in the 2nd Degree if false information implicates someone of a Crime in the 1st or 2nd Degree).
  • Fictitious Reports: Reporting or causing to be reported to any law enforcement authority an incident you know did not occur; or pretending to furnish information to law enforcement related to an incident, knowing you do not have such information (Crime in the 4th Degree).

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Get Professional Legal Help With Your Perjury Case

Since perjury threatens the foundations of our justice system, courts take this offense very seriously. However, as you can see, there are many defenses to perjury as there are often many ways to interpret statements made under oath. Professional legal counsel will understand the complexities of the law and will zealously defend your interests. Get help today from an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney.

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