Lying under oath is a felony in Nevada. Penalties could include prison, fines, and a criminal record that may deter future potential employers. But a skilled Nevada criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate the perjury charge down to a lesser offense or possibly a full dismissal.
This page contains a legal summary of the Nevada offense of perjury. Keep scrolling down to learn the definition, how to fight perjury charges, and potential penalties.
Legal Definition of Perjury in Nevada
Simply put, perjury is lying under oath. The legal definition of "perjury" in Las Vegas, Nevada is when a person takes an oath in a judicial or other proceeding where an oath is legally required and the person either:
- willfully makes an unqualified statement that the person does not know to be true, or
- swears or affirms willfully and falsely in a matter material to the issue or point in question, or
- suborns, bribes or induces any other person to make an unqualified statement or to swear or affirm in such a manner, or
- executes an affidavit for a verification of a pleading which contains a false statement, or induces any other person to do so, or
- executes an affidavit or other instrument which contains a false statement before a person authorized to administer oaths or induces any other person to do so.
Note that making a statement under oath that he/she doesn't know to be true is as perjurious in Nevada law as if that person willfully lied under oath. Other types of perjury in Nevada include making a false affidavit or complaint in order to effect an arrest or search. Likewise, it's also a crime to use a fictitious name on an affidavit or complaint in order to effect an arrest or search.
A person who makes a false statement under oath is not guilty of perjury in Nevada if he/she believed the statement to be true.
Another type of perjury in Nevada occurs when a person makes a declaration under penalty of perjury (or induces someone else to do so) when the declaration contains either:
- a willful and false statement in a matter material to the issue or point in question, or
- a willful and unqualified statement which the person does not know to be true.
Subornation of perjury
To suborn perjury means to induce or to bribe someone to commit perjury. Note that suborning someone else to commit perjury is considered the same as making the perjurious statements him/herself.
Federal Perjury Law
It's also a crime under federal law to lie under oath. For more information, read our article on federal perjury law. Federal crime of perjury
There are many possible defenses available to fight Las Vegas perjury charges under NRS 199.120. Some defenses are purely procedural, such as that the defendant never really took an oath or that an oath was never required. But the most commonly tapped defense is that the defendant had no intent to lie...or that he honestly believed he was telling the truth.
In Nevada criminal cases, the prosecution has the burden to prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction. If the defense attorney can raise this reasonable doubt by showing that the evidence suggests the defendant didn't deliberately lie under oath, then the case may be thrown out.
Note that it is not a defense to a Nevada perjury charge that the oath wasn't administered properly. Nor is it a defense that the defendant's attorney advised him/her to commit the perjury . . . but a jury may take this into account when determining the defendant's intent to lie.
- 1 to 4 years in Nevada State Prison, and
- maybe up to $5,000 in fines
Just merely attempting to suborn, induce or bribe someone else to commit perjury is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada even if no perjury ever gets committed. The penalty includes:
- up to 364 days in Clark County Detention Center (or another county jail), and/or
- up to $2,000 in fines
Finally, a person who willfully commits (or induces someone to commit) perjury that results in the conviction and execution of an innocent person can be prosecuted as the Nevada crime of murder. This is a category A felony in Las Vegas carrying:
- life without the possibility of parole, or
- life with the possibility of parole after twenty years, or
- 50 years in prison with the possibility of parole after twenty years.
Note that a judge may also punish someone for committing perjury by holding them in contempt of court. Also note there is no civil cause of action for perjury . . . in other words, perjury is a crime but not a tort.
Federal Perjury Penalties
Violating federal perjury law carries a fine and/or up to five years in prison. A person convicted of perjury in both Nevada state and federal courts would then do the time for both sentences one after the other
Arrested? Call . . . .
If you've been accused of perjury under NRS 199.120, Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (333-3673) can meet with you for a free meeting. They will try either to get your case dismissed, to get your charged reduced to a lesser offense, or else to take your case to a jury and fight for your innocence at trial.
For more information read our articles on category D felony in Nevada, category A felony in Las Vegas, gross misdemeanor in Nevada, Nevada crime of murder, and Clark County Detention Center. To learn about California Perjury Law—Penal Code 118 PC, go to our article on California Perjury Law—Penal Code 118 PC.