The crime of perjury involves making false statements (or lying) under oath. Each state has its own specific definition for perjury, but the scenario below illustrates how the law can apply in Tennessee.
Suppose that a couple is going through proceedings for a contested divorce in Tennessee. Because the parties may not agree on key facts, like the value of their assets or their conduct toward their children, it's often necessary for them to make statements under oath. They may issue interrogatories to each other which contain questions that must be answered truthfully; the same goes for any depositions. Additionally, Tennessee law requires that the couple provide financial affidavits. If at any point a spouse lies during any of these proceedings, they can be charged with perjury.
Tennessee Perjury/Aggravated Perjury Laws Summary
When you're researching the law (especially concerning criminal matters), you want to expedite things and you don't want to waste valuable time attempting to understand statutes written in legal jargon. That's the reason for the following table which is intended to provide key items found in the statutes that make up the perjury laws in Tennessee.
Tennessee Code Annotated:
Elements of Perjury and Aggravated Perjury
Perjury: With the intent to deceive, an individual commits the following:
- Makes a false statement under oath;
- Makes a statement, under oath, that confirms the truth of a prior false statement, or
- Makes a false statement on an official document/declaration required or authorized by law to be made under oath and the document states "subject to the penalties of perjury."
Aggravated Perjury: An individual (with the intent to deceive) makes a false statement under the following circumstances:
- The false statement is made during or in connection with an official proceeding; and
- The false statement is material.
- Mistake of fact
- The defendant believed that the statement was true.
- The statement was not false.
- The statement wasn't about a material issue.
- The statement was an opinion.
- For aggravated perjury: the defendant retracted the false statement.
Note: It is not a defense that the person mistakenly believed the statement to be immaterial.
Possible Penalties and Sentencing
- Perjury is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by the maximum sentence of incarceration of not more than 11 months, 29 days and a $2,500 fine.
- Aggravated perjury is a Class D felony, punishable by jail time of up to 12 years, $5,000 fine.
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.
Tennessee Perjury Laws: Related Resources
Worried About a Perjury Case in Tennessee? An Attorney can Help
Violating perjury laws is no minor occurrence. If you're accused of perjury or aggravated perjury in Tennessee, then you shouldn't face the charges alone. Maybe you made a good faith mistake and believed that your statements were true, or you had problems with your memory. Whatever your situation, a Tennessee criminal attorney can help strategize a defense on your behalf.