What Is Suborning Perjury?

Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerWhen a person makes statements under oath, they have sworn to tell the truth. If they intentionally lie, they may face perjury charges. A person providing sworn testimony knowing that it was false is often the first type of perjury people think of when they imagine this crime. There is another type of perjury under federal law, however: suborning perjury.

Suborning Perjury

BuzzFeed made headlines in January with a story surrounding suborning perjury. In their report, they state Trump committed the crime of suborning perjury after directing Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. Since that publication, CNN has reported Special counsel Robert Mueller has disputed the Buzzfeed report. Still, it has gotten people asking: what is suborning perjury?

If a person encourages, persuades, or influences another person to give false testimony as a witness in a legal proceeding, they are guilty of suborning perjury. The person trying to persuade someone to lie under oath does not need to use threats in order to be changed with suborning perjury. They simply need to try and persuade someone else to give dishonest testimony.

Proving Suborning Perjury

After charging someone with suborning perjury, the prosecution will need to prove three elements of the crime.

The first is that the defendant attempted to persuade the witness. This is the most basic element of proof. The prosecution simply has to show that the defendant knew the witness would be under oath, and still encouraged them to lie.

In order for a person to be guilty of suborning perjury, they must also believe the testimony they are encouraging is false. If a person believes something to be the truth and tries to persuade someone to give that testimony under oath, they cannot be charged with suborning perjury.

Lastly, simply encouraging someone to lie under oath is not a crime. In order for a crime to be committed, the witness must actually lie during sworn testimony.

Attorneys and Suborning Perjury

Most of the time, someone is not guilty of suborning perjury simply because they know a witness is going to lie under oath. While attorneys are not guilty of a crime simply by knowing a witness will lie under oath, they do have special rules pertaining to whether or not they can allow the witness to give their testimony.

Attorneys are officers of the court and as such, have certain responsibilities. When an attorney suspects someone’s going to lie on the stand, they must advise against it and inform them of the penalties of perjury.

Attorneys cannot try to influence any witness to lie during their testimony, and they also cannot call a witness to the stand if they know they will lie. However, if the witness is the attorney’s client and wishes to testify, the attorney must allow them to do so.

Contact a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer in Chicago that Can Help

Suborning perjury is covered under federal law and as such, is a federal crime. Those convicted of suborning perjury will face serious penalties. A skilled Chicago federal criminal defense lawyer can help get sentences reduced, or cases were thrown out of court altogether. If you have been charged with perjury or suborning perjury, contact the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel at 312-270-0999. We know how to refute the arguments of the prosecution, and will fight to ensure your rights are always upheld. Call us today for your free consultation so we can begin discussing your case.

Sources:

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1621

https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/18/politics/mueller-statement-buzzfeed/index.html

https://www.justice.gov/jm/criminal-resource-manual-1752-subornation-perjury

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