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In Victoria, perjury is a serious offence and carries a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment. Perjury is taken seriously because it has the potential to undermine the administration of justice by misleading decision-makers such as magistrates and juries. 

Perjury legislation

The offence of Perjury is contained in section 314(1) of the Crimes Act which states:

Whosoever commits wilful and corrupt perjury or subornation of perjury shall be liable to level 4 imprisonment (15 years maximum).

Perjury at common law

Perjury is also an offence under common law. A person commits common law perjury if they knowingly make a false statement while under oath or affirmation during a judicidal proceeding in relation to a matter that is material to the determination of the proceeding.

What Actions Might Constitute Perjury?

A person commits the offence if they:

  • Give and sign a witness statement to police knowing some or all of it to be false
  • Lie in an affidavit or statutory declaration
  • Give false evidence in court

What the Police Must Prove

To find a person guilty of this offence under the Crimes Act, the police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. They made a false statement;
  2. The false statement was made while on oath or affirmation, or in a declaration or affidavit; and
  3. They made the statement knowing it to be false

To find a person guilty of common law perjury, the police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. They made a false statement;
  2. The false statement was made while on oath or affirmation;
  3. The false statement was made in a judicial proceeding;
  4. The false statement was material to the judicial proceeding;
  5. The person made the statement knowing it to be false.

Possible Defences

It is a defence to this charge if the person who made the statement honestly believed the statement to be true. It is also a defence if the person made the statement in response to a question that was posed and which the person misunderstood.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

Perjury is an indictable offence, meaning it is usually heard in the County Court. In some circumstances, matters can be dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Michelle Makela

This article was written by Michelle Makela

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (State and Federal Industrial Tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

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