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What is perjury?

Anyone who deliberately gives false (untrue) evidence for a judicial proceeding is guilty of a crime called perjury.

What does 'judicial proceeding' cover?

Basically, someone commits perjury if they lie in their evidence in a court or tribunal on any important issue. It applies to all courts including the family court.

But what if I didn't realise I wasn't telling the truth?

You can't be guilty of perjury if you gave false evidence without knowing it.

Is it only perjury if I say it?

It doesn't matter how the false evidence is given. It is perjury if it is:

  • spoken (eg in court testimony) or
  • written (eg in an affidavit or other court form).

What can happen to me if I am found guilty of perjury?

Perjury is a very serious offence and the maximum penalty is 14 years in jail. If however the perjury was committed to try to get someone else convicted of a serious offence (one where the jail term is life imprisonment), then the person who committed the perjury can be jailed for life.

For example, if a witness in a murder trial lies to try to get the accused person convicted of murder, the witness can be jailed for life for perjuring themselves. This is because the sentence for murder is life imprisonment.

Can only adults be guilty of perjury?

No, children can commit perjury if they know the difference between telling the truth and lying, and they knew they were lying when they gave evidence.

Do I need legal advice?

You need legal advice if you have been charged with perjury.

Where can I get legal advice

Legal Aid Queensland may give legal advice about perjury.

Perjury is considered a very serious offence. If you have been charged with a serious offence or you have an urgent matter, we may suggest you apply for a grant of legal aid if you are eligible, or seek private representation, rather than waiting for a legal advice booking.

Legal Aid Queensland cannot provide you with a lawyer to attend a police interview.

These organisations may also give you legal advice.

Community legal centres give legal advice on a range of topics. Contact them to see if they can help with your matter.

Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private solicitor for advice or representation.

Who else can help?

These organisations may also be able to help with your matter. They do not provide legal advice.

Department of Justice and Attorney-General provide information about going to court to help defendants prepare for a court appearance.

Queensland Courts information on Supreme court, Court of Appeal, district court, magistrates court, Coroners court, Childrens court of Queensland, Land court.

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