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What is Perjury?

Perjury is a crime of willfully making a false statement on oath as a witness (and even as an interpreter) in a court of law, such a statement being material to the question in issue and made deliberately or without belief in its truth. It is for the judge to decide whether the statement was material, and for the jury to say whether the intention of the accused was to deceive.

There can be no conviction for perjury, as a general rule, upon the evidence of one witness alone as to the falsity of the accused's statement; there must be either two witnesses to contradict the accused, or one to contradict together with some other evidence materially corroborating the contradiction. The whole English law of perjury was consolidated in the Perjury Act of 1911.

Penalties according to the gravity of the perjury range from fines to seven years' imprisonment.

The term 'false swearing' applies to false oaths not taken in the course of judicial proceedings, e.g. false declarations with reference to marriages, births, or deaths, in bankruptcy matters, or by a voter. The punishments are as those for perjury.

'Subornation of perjury' is procuring another to commit perjury. It is punishable as perjury itself.

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