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  • Home Resources & Technical Articles Criminal Offence Topics (A to Z) Perjury Offences Perjury Offences and Penalties in New South Wales (NSW)

    Perjury Offences and Penalties in New South Wales (NSW)

    There are many damages for false testimony, especially regarding a court/legal proceeding, regardless of the level. When the courts rely on the "True" account of a witness to form their sentencing and judgements, some mischievous people have knowingly abused it in an attempt to mislead the court.

    The Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) terms perjury and related offences. The Act prescribes severe penalties for those guilty.

    If an individual is convicted in a New South Wales court for a perjury offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a Criminal History Check result in New South Wales (NSW).

    When is a person guilty of Perjury?

    Section 327 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) finds a person is guilty of perjury offences under the law if they, under oath;

    • Make a false statement relating to a legal or judicial proceeding,
    • They know such testimony to be false,
    • They willfully and intentionally made such a statement
    • Attempted or intended to affect the court proceeding by making such false statement

    The primary offence of perjury is considered an indictable offence and attracts penalties as high as ten years imprisonment.

    A person may still be guilty of Perjury under section if they issue a statement regardless of whether a judicial proceeding has commenced or ever commences. It depends on whether the statement is considered material to be a judicial proceeding in any form of the proceeding. Law can make such a determination based on a proceeding likely relating to the statement.


    1. Perjury with intent to get conviction or acquittal

    It is an offence for a person to procure or plan the conviction/acquittal of another person by committing perjury in court. Section 328 of the Act prescribes severe penalties reaching 14 years imprisonment for such offences.


    1. The offence of falsely swearing on indictment for perjury
    The court can commit the original charge of perjury against a person if it is not satisfied based on the evidence that the person is guilty of such offence. Usually, the court may find the person guilty of false statements (not amounting to perjury) and sentence the person for the latter crime.

    For this offence, the court will issue the normal sentencing applicable to the crime they find them guilty of instead of a perjury offence. Section 329 guides the court when making such pronouncements.


    1. The offence of False charges not amounting to perjury

    A person guilty of section 330 of the Act is charged with the offence of making a false statement and;

    • Knowing such statement to be false, or
    • Not believing in the credibility

    Is liable to an offence that attracts imprisonment of 5 years.


    1. Making contradictory statement

    Section 331 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) will sentence a person for an offence of perjury or similar if the jury is satisfied that;

    • The accused made two statements on oath that are fundamentally irreconcilable with the other.
    • And

    • One of the statements is made by the accused, knowing it to be false, and the trier cannot say which it is.

    Cases that constitute an offence of perjury;

    Following section 334 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), It is irrelevant to a charge of perjury in court that;

    • ✔ The statement or oath under survey is given verbally or in writing
    • ✔ The forms/ceremony adopted in administering the promise, as long as the person assents to the form
    • ✔ How the judicial tribunal was constituted or held in place as long as it is the relevant proceeding for the statement.
    • ✔ The person who makes the statement is a competent witness or if such statement is admissible in a legal court.
    • ✔ The law governing an arbitration agreement, or the relevant proceeding is, or not the law of NSW.

    1. The offence of False statements in evidence on commission

    A person can be required to give evidence even while not under an oath as defined in the Evidence on Commission Act 1955 (NSW). A person who gives a false statement or evidence in writing or orally and knows such to be false is guilty of the offence that incurs penalties up to 5 years imprisonment.


    1. Making a false entry on a register

    It is an offence for a person to make a false entry into a public register for any illegitimate intention. It includes where such entry is useful or supervised by a public officer, and the person knows the statement to be false under the law.

    Under section 336 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), it attracts imprisonment up to 5 years imprisonment.

    Technicalities for perjury offences

    Section 332 states certain circumstances that can prove a lifeline for people charged with Perjury offences.

    • Where there is evidence consisting of an affidavit, deposition, declaration as evidence but informal
    • And

    • Any such jurat makes the instrument informal or defective,

    The accused can be granted an acquittal because of the instrument given in evidence for all trial purposes. And not because of the defect or informality of the instruments used.


    1. Subornation of Perjury

    Section 333 describes a serious offence for a person to procure, induce or persuade another to give a false testimony that leads to subornation of perjury. It is an offence that incurs up to 7 years imprisonment.

    Section 333 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) describes the various cases for such offences.

    A person who commits subornation of perjury is guilty of a serious indictable offence in NSW. Subsection 2 of s333 describes an offence reaching 14 years imprisonment.

    Restrictions to prosecuting an offence of Perjury

    Section 338 lists all permissible cases and proceedings for a perjury offence in NSW. Subsection 1 states that a person cannot be prosecuted for the offence of perjury unless by;

    • ✔ The Director of Public Prosecutions, or
    • ✔ The direction of the Attorney General, or
    • ✔ Persons, with leave of the judicial officer who instigated the tribunal for the Perjury offence hearing.

    Subsection 2 of s338 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) states that where it is impractical for a person to apply for leave to prosecute the matter, it may go on with leave from the Supreme Court.

    A person cannot be prosecuted for Perjury under the law unless they have received the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

    Offences Similar to Perjury under the law

    Many other offences are similar to perjury, especially when viewed holistically. However, while these offences are not usually handled as Perjury before a legal proceeding, they may share similar elements.

    Section 317 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) defines an offence where a person with the intent to mislead a legal court or sitting;

    • ✔ Suppresses, conceals damages, hides, or alters any documents knowing that they may be required as evidence in court.
    • ✔ Fabricate, forge or adjust statements/evidence
    • ✔ Intentionally submits fabricated or false evidence in court

    The person is guilty of an offence that incurs ten years of imprisonment.


    1. The offence of making or using a false instrument to pervert justice

    Where a person uses any means or material under their capacity or legal control to;

    • ✔ Falsify a document,
    • ✔ Alter any useful statement or account
    • ✔ And attempts by that act to;
    • ✔ Induce another person to accept such instrument as genuine
    • ✔ Hopes to affect the outcome of the court by such act

    Is guilty of an offence that attracts as much as 14 years imprisonment.


    1. General Offence of perverting Justice

    A person is guilty of such offence if they attempt to pervert or obstruct justice through any intentional action. It includes where the person uses any reasonable means within their reach to obstruct the course of justice.

    It is an offence that attracts as much as 14 years imprisonment.


    1. Corruption of witnesses

    It is an offence under section 321 of the Act for a person to

    • ✔ Procure or offer a reward to a witness to give false evidence or withhold valid accounts.
    • ✔ Attempts with any material reward or said to influence the decision of a person sworn in as a juror for the case.

    It is an offence that carries the maximum punishment of 10 years imprisonment under the law.


    1. Corruption of a legal proceeding

    A person (witness) is also guilty of this offence if they agree or accept to any benefit or material gains in the understanding that;

    • They will give false witnesses about a matter in court or any legal proceeding relating to the matter.
    • Or will withhold true evidence relating to the matter.
    • Or not attend as a witness nor produce any evidence relating to the court summons

    For Jurors

    • They will omit certain aspects of the case or charge,
    • Be absent at the legal proceeding,
    • Or give a favourable judgement or other actions that perverts justice.

    It is an offence that attracts penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment for the guilty person.

    Threatening, Violent actions or intimidating witnesses, Judges and so on

    It is an offence under section 322 for a person to threaten or cause any violence, detriment or injury to a person who is;

    • Called or sworn as a witness for a case. And by such action intended to influence, scare or dissuade them from appearing or giving true testimony
    • A juror relating to the case, and by such action intends to influence their decision or ruling in the matter.
    • A judicial officer or intending to influence such persons.

    It is an offence that attracts penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment.

    Will a Perjury Offence in New South Wales (NSW) show up on a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?

    If an individual is found guilty of a perjury offence in NSW, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of their police clearance check.

    Individuals can obtain a nationally coordinated criminal history check online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.

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