Punishments Of Perjury  

Perjury is the act of lying under oath or under penalty of perjury so that there is an effect on the outcome or result of the judicial hearing or proceeding.

Perjury is a very serious offense under criminal law, as lying in court under oath leads to the miscarriage of justice and also usurps the power of the court.

Since perjury is such a serious offense, the punishments of perjury are often severe, and sentences vary from 5 to 7 years. For instance, in the US, perjury is deemed a felony. Hence perjury is punishable with a jail sentence of up to 5 years. In the UK, however, the maximum sentence for perjury is 7 years. For smaller offences of perjury, the sentence might be up to 3 years (for example, lying on your tax returns under penalty of perjury is a crime in the United States, punishable with a prison sentence of up to 3 years).

However, the number of people accused of perjury who are actually prosecuted are few, and in countries like Germany, France and Italy, perjury is not an offense as suspects do not testify under oath. Hence, the punishments of perjury, though a serious crime, are not extremely severe in reality. Being convicted of perjury is also rather difficult to do, and even if convicted, the accused usually do not serve their full sentence.

For example, in the famous Hiss-Chambers case, Alger Hiss was convicted of two counts of perjury, and he received two concurrent five year sentences. Despite the seriousness of the charge though, he served only 44 months of his sentence. Hence, the punishments of perjury are not very severe.

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