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  • Perjury Offences and Penalties in Queensland (QLD)

    The court often needs unbiased and factual testimony from a witness or confirmation of an alibi. The importance of these witnesses cannot be overemphasised for an effective and thorough court proceeding. Therefore, it can be a catastrophe on the Queensland legal system and the parties if any of these witnesses bear false witness (perjury) or conspires to it.

    The Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) details what Perjury and its actions are defined as under Queensland laws. A person who is sworn to a court stands as a witness is forbidden from telling biased accounts or false declarations with the intent of affecting a court pronouncement or sentencing.

    The offence of perjury is grave worldwide and often attracts severe penalties for those found guilty.

    If an individual is convicted in a Queensland (Qld) court for a Perjury offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a criminal background check in Queensland.

    The offence will be disclosed on a criminal history check in accordance with the Spent Convictions Scheme in Queensland.

    Perjury Offences in Queensland

    Section 123 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) defines perjury as a severe offence against the State, judicial system and individuals. The crime of perjury can occur whether the accused person intended oral or written forms to commit the offence.

    It is considered an offence of perjury where;

    A person is under oath and knowingly or recklessly gives false testimony in an official/touching matter. It includes a false testimony about a matter relevant in a hearing or depending on the official court matter.

    For this section, it is irrelevant that;

    • The false testimony is given verbally or documented in writing
    • The manner in which the oath is administered as long as the person initially agrees
    • At which place or point or how the court or tribunal was coordinated in the process
    • Whether the person giving the testimony is a competent witness or not at the point

    An offender, in this case, cannot be arrested without a warrant.

    Section 123A of the Criminal Code defines the Perjury offence of contradictory statement. It states that where a person is on trial for perjury, and the jury is satisfied that;

    • The accused made two statements under oath where at least one is glaringly in conflict with the other,

    And

    • The accused made any of the statements knowing it to be false and misleading.

    Even if the jury is unsure which of the statements/account is correct, they can still find them guilty of perjury while investigating the statements.

    Punishments for Perjury

    Perjury is a severe and denting charge under Australian laws. The primary offence of perjury attracts sentencing of up to 14 years imprisonment in a Queensland court.

    However, if the crime was committed with malicious intent towards another person to cause their conviction, it may attract more severe sentencing. For example, if the person committed the perjury offence in a matter punishable with life imprisonment, they will receive the same punishment.

    Charge of perjury

    The court cannot successfully convict a person for a crime of perjury or participating in any of its form or offences by an unsubstantiated story from one witness. The court cannot convict a person of perjury based on a one-handed account that it cannot verify through another witness.


    1. Altering evidence

    Section 126 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) considers it an offence for a person with the intent to mislead a tribunal in a judicial proceeding to;

    • Fabricate evidence through other means (usually apart from the offence of perjury)
    • Intentionally uses the fabricated account of such testimony in a legal tribunal or proceeding.

    Anyone the court finds guilty of this crime is liable to punishments up to 7 years imprisonment.

    However, an offender for this case cannot be arrested without a warrant s126(2)


    1. The offence of compromising witnesses or testimonies

    Section 127 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) considers it an offence for a person to;

    • ✔ Offer, give, promise, remit a form of benefits or gains for the agreement or understanding that the beneficiary being a witness shall give false testimony.
    • ✔ Attempts through any measurable means to induce or convince a person to give a false account in a judicial proceeding (while under oath)
    • ✔ Or where a "would-be" witness in a coming legal tribunal asks, obtains, solicits or receives any property, benefits or gains in the pretext that they shall give false testimony or withhold the true testimony under oath.

    It is a crime that incurs as much as seven years imprisonment. The court may only sentence a person for such offence after rigorous and unassailable evidence that shows that they were guilty of such actions. However, an offender under this case cannot be arrested without a warrant.

    The Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld) states many circumstances for aggravation for an offence against this section.


    1. Deceiving witnesses

    It is a serious legal misdemeanor and contempt for a person to express any false documents, certificates, testimony, representation, or tokens just to be called as a witness for a legal proceeding. And as a witness, attempts/intends to affect the testimony or circumstance of the case as a witness. It is a crime that incurs as much as three years imprisonment.

    For this section, the person claims to have particular and useful information to deceive the court.


    1. Damaging evidence with intent

    Section 129 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) describes an offence where a person destroys evidence or material they know MAY or WILL be helpful in a court proceeding. It includes cases where the person damages the material with intent and disregard for the law.

    This section also includes where the witness intends to stop or affect a court proceeding. It is an offence that attracts as much as seven years imprisonment under the law.


    1. Preventing Witnesses from attending a court proceeding

    Where a witness is summoned for a hearing, or a person is likely to be summoned, it is an offence under Section 130 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) to wilfully prevent them. It also includes cases where a person prevents them from acting or producing any evidence pursuant to the subpoena they provide.

    It is a serious offence that incurs a penalty of up to 3 years imprisonment.


    1. Conspiracy to bring a false accusation

    It is a crime for a person to conspire or plan with another person to;

    • ✔ Charge another person for an offence
    • ✔ Cause a person to be charged with a crime.

    It is immaterial whether the offence is committed within or outside Queensland. It includes cases where both parties or any of them know that such person is innocent of the alleged offence. Section 131 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) describes such an act as a severe offence under the law that attracts penalties of up to;

    • Seven years imprisonment for a primary offence.
    • Fourteen years imprisonment if the alleged offence was one that would attract a sentencing less than life imprisonment.
    • Life imprisonment if the person convicted is liable to a life imprisonment term.

    For this case, the offender cannot be arrested without a permit from the court (Arrest warrant). And prosecution for such charges can only begin with the consent of the Attorney-General.


    1. Elements of Perjury or relating offences

    The court will find a person guilty of perjury if the following conditions are located in the case;

    • ✔ The person was at the time lawfully sworn as a witness in court
    • ✔ The accused (witness) made the statement intentionally,
    • ✔ The accused knew the statement to be rightly false
    • ✔ The testimony can affect the court's decisions regarding the matter they testify to.

    Offences relating to Perjury

    1. Conspiracy to defeat a justice

    Section 132 of the Criminal Code makes it a serious offence for a person to conspire or attempt to defeat, obstruct, or prevent justice. Anyone guilty of such an offence is liable to imprisonment of up to 7 years.

    Prosecution for this offence cannot commence without the consent of the Attorney General. And an offender cannot be arrested without a warrant.


    1. Aggravating an indictable offence

    Section 133 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) describes a severe offence where a person for some benefits agrees to receive, obtain or attempt to get again (monetary, properties or otherwise) for themselves with the understanding that they will compound an indictable offence.

    For this section to compound an indictable offence means to;

    • ✔ Conceal important evidence or process
    • ✔ Hide or suppress an aggravating act to the offence
    • ✔ Abstain from an indictable process or proceedings
    • ✔ Delay a court matter relating to an indictable proceeding

    Section 133 of the Act describes any of these acts as an indictable offence against the guilty person. And prescribes punishment of;

    • ✔ Three years imprisonment for a basic offence (referred to as a misdemeanour)
    • ✔ If the original (indictable) offence attracts a life term, the offender is liable to imprisonment of 7 years.

    For this section, the offender cannot be arrested without a warrant, according to subsection 4 of s133 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld).

    However, it is not an offence for the following cases;

    • ✔ Where there are negotiations between both parties of the original offence to achieve a just outcome
    • ✔ An ongoing mediation between the legal representatives of both parties or any acting in the victim's interest. And where such meeting is legal, in good faith, and attempts a just outcome for the matter
    • ✔ Ongoing dispute resolution relating to the alleged offence

    1. The offence of justices hearing a matter of personal interest

    Section 136 of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) prohibits any justice from exercising any legal jurisdiction in a matter where they have unique interests. It is considered a misdemeanour in several forms, and it attracts a penalty of 3 years imprisonment.

    Will a Perjury Offence in Queensland (Qld) show up on a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?

    If an individual is found guilty of a perjury offence in Queensland (Qld), 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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