Lying under oath is never a good idea. While many people consider it a minor offense, the consequences of perjury can be severe and often come with long-term implications. 

In this blog post, we will explore what happens when you lie under oath, including why lying under oath is illegal, the types of punishment associated with perjury, and how to avoid breaking the law when testifying in court.

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The Overview

Many people are unaware that lying under oath has serious consequences. This behavior is called perjury and illegal in all fifty US states. Perjury refers to knowingly giving false information while speaking under oath to an authority, such as a judge or jury, in a courthouse setting. 

It could also refer to signing an affidavit containing false information or otherwise deliberately providing incorrect information while testifying as part of an official process such as a grand jury hearing or deposition.

The Rules Around Lying Under Oath

There are strict rules around what constitutes legal testimony in court proceedings, and they vary by jurisdiction. Generally speaking, however, it is illegal to provide false information with the intent to deceive while under oath. 

This means that if you know you are giving false information and intend for it to deceive someone else, then you have committed perjury – no matter how trivial the lie may seem at face value.

The Punishment for Lying Under Oath

The punishment for perjury varies from state to state but can include jail time, probation, and other penalties such as fines or community service hours. 

Fines can range anywhere from $500-$10,000 depending on the severity of the offense, while jail time varies from one month up to twenty years in prison depending on whether the crime was committed in felony or misdemeanor court proceedings (eighty percent of cases fall into the latter category).

How To Avoid Breaking The Law When Testifying

Clearly, avoiding criminal repercussions should be your number one goal when testifying in court, so here are some tips for making sure your testimony stays within legal boundaries: always tell the truth; never exaggerate any facts. 

Make sure you understand the questions being asked before responding; remember key details accurately; refuse if asked to speculate well beyond your experience or knowledge; don’t stretch definitions too far; remain consistent with past statements if needed to clarify any discrepancies; defer if necessary by saying “I do not recall” instead of guessing at details you cannot confidently attest too; lastly

Remember that silence does not equal guilt so don’t feel compelled to offer further detail unless asked directly by court personnel supervising proceedings. 


Lying under oath carries serious consequences, so it’s important not just to know what constitutes perjury but also what steps you need to take when testifying in order to avoid any possibility that your statements will be misinterpreted or understood falsely. Above all else – always tell the truth even if it feels uncomfortable – because, eventually, lies have a way of catching up with everyone who breaks them.

For any further legal assistance, you can contact our criminal law firm. We’d be happy to guide and try our best to ease your problem.