False Testimony in Criminal Cases
A developer who helped prosecutors convict former Fort Lauderdale Vice Mayor Cindi Hutchinson in a corruption case pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge that he initially lied when questioned, records show.
Steven Goldstrom, 56, pleaded guilty to giving false information to law enforcement during an investigation, a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to 12 months of probation and adjudicated guilty, prosecutor Deborah Zimet said. Goldstrom later cooperated and gave details of the benefits Hutchinson received, Zimet said.
Hutchinson, 56, pleaded guilty March 19 to one count of unlawful compensation and two counts of official misconduct. She admitted receiving several thousand dollars worth of free home improvements while she was on the commission after voting in favor of developer Glenn Wright’s project. Prosecutors said Goldstrom delivered cash and services to Hutchinson on behalf of his business partner, Wright. (source)
A false testimony, or perjury, refers to a testimony given under oath that is not true or not entirely true. This is a criminal offense that is punishable with jail time or severe fines if convicted. False testimony does not include false information that is not directly related to the outcome of the case.
A crime that occurs when an individual willfully makes a false statement during a judicial proceeding, after he or she has taken an oath to speak the truth.
The common-law crime of perjury is now governed by both state and federal laws. In addition, the Model Penal Code, which has been adopted in some form by many states and promulgated by the Commission on Uniform State Laws, also sets forth the following basic elements for the crime of perjury:
- a false statement is made under oath or equivalent affirmation during a judicial proceeding;
- the statement must be material or relevant to the proceeding; and
- the witness must have the Specific Intent to deceive.
The punishment for perjury in most states, and under federal law, is the imposition of a fine, imprisonment, or both. Federal law also imposes sentencing enhancements when the court determines that a defendant has falsely testified on her own behalf and is convicted. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the court is required to automatically increase the defendant’s sentence.
Two federal statutes govern the crime of perjury in federal proceedings. Title 18 U.S.C.A. § 1621 codifies the Common Law of perjury and consists of the elements listed above. In 1970, the scope of section 1621 was expanded by the enactment of 18 U.S.C.A. § 1623. Section 1623 changes the definition of intent from willfully offering false testimony to merely having knowledge that the testimony is false. In addition it adds to the definition of perjury to include the witness’s use of information, including any book, paper, document, record, recording, or other material she knows contains a false material declaration, and includes proceedings that are ancillary to any court, such as affidavits and depositions, and Grand Jury proceedings. Section 1623 also contains a retraction defense. If, during the proceeding in which the false statement was made, the person admits to the falsity of the statement before it is evident that the falsity has been or will be exposed, and as long as the falsity does not affect the proceeding substantially, prosecution will be barred under section 1623.
Two variations of perjury are Subornation of Perjury and false swearing; in many states these two variations are separate offenses. Subornation of perjury is a crime in which the defendant does not actually testify falsely but instead induces, persuades, instigates, or in some way procures another witness to commit perjury. False swearing is a false statement made under oath but not made during an official proceeding. Some states have created a separate offense for false swearing, while others have enacted perjury statutes to include this type of false statement. These crimes also may be punished by the imposition of a fine, imprisonment, or both (source)
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