The Difference Between Perjury and False Swearing in Arizona

false swearingIn the state of Arizona, there is a difference between being charged with perjury and false swearing. This difference is big too, one is a class 4 felony and the other is a Class 6 felony.

FALSE SWEARING IN ARIZONA

Arizona state law A.R.S. 13-2703 states that the act of false swearing occurs when someone makes a sworn statement knowing that it is a false account or statement.

The charge of false swearing in the state of Arizona is a Class 6 felony. Under the law, you are eligible to be imprisoned for a minimum of 1 year and a maximum of 2 years if you are found guilty of false swearing.

PERJURY IN ARIZONA

Arizona state law A.R.S. 13-2702 states that the act of perjury occurs when someone under oath makes a false statement in regard to a material issue or when an unsworn statement is made on a material issue, knowing that it was falsified.

The charge of perjury in the state of Arizona is a Class 4 felony. Under the laws you could see a minimum of 1 year prison time up to 3.75 years, however, the presumptive term for perjury convictions is around 2.5 years.

VERY SIMILAR, YET VERY DIFFERENT

At a glance, perjury and false swearing may appear to be the same thing. There is a world of difference though in their definitions that make a tremendous amount of difference in just how serious the charge is.

The word is MATERIAL. If something is material in an investigation it is something that holds a great deal of relevant or significant information. Usually, it is the material information that can make or break a case and falsifying it is a serious offense.

If you submit a false statement under oath, but it is not considered to be of material importance to the case, that is when you would only be charged under the false swearing charge.

FRED AND SALLY-THE CASE OF THE PERJURER

Here is a hypothetical scenario to help straighten out the difference between perjury and false swearing.

In a murder investigation, both Fred and Sally are called to testify. Fred is the best friend of the defendant and Sally is the girlfriend of the defendant.

Exhibit A in the case is a pistol that has the defendant’s prints on it. Under oath, Sally says that she has never seen this weapon before and does not know where the defendant could have gotten it. Fred makes the statement that he had seen the gun before in the possession of the defendant, but he did not know where it came from.

Right here is the slippery slope:

Exhibit B is the sales record for the pistol. It is listed to Sally and the paperwork has her personal signature.

Exhibit C is a video from the gun store showing Sally purchasing the gun in the presence of Fred and the defendant.

Who is the one guilty of perjury and who is guilty of false swearing?

Fred is the one who is guilty of false swearing. The gun is the material evidence in the case, which makes Sally the one guilty of perjury.

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