Nevada NRS § 199.120 makes it a crime to commit perjury, which is the legal term for lying under oath. The statute also prohibits the subornation of perjury, which is inducing another person to lie under oath.
Both perjury and subornation of perjury are category D felonies, punishable by 1 to 4 years in prison and fines of up to $5,000. The most common defense is that you genuinely believed you were telling the truth.
- Intentionally giving false testimony while on a witness stand during a district court trial.
- Deliberately offering inaccurate statements during a deposition.
- Purposely answering an interrogatory with fabricated information.
The statute states:
A person, having taken a lawful oath or made affirmation in a judicial proceeding – who willfully makes an unqualified statement of that which the person does not know to be true – is guilty of perjury.
Below, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys will discuss:
- 1. What is the legal definition of perjury in Nevada?
- 2. What is the subornation of perjury?
- 3. What are the penalties under NRS 199.120?
- 4. What are ways to fight the charges?
- 5. Is perjury deportable?
- 6. Can the record be sealed?
NRS 199.120 defines perjury as taking an oath in a judicial or other proceeding where an oath is required and either:
- willfully making an unqualified statement that you do not know to be true; or
- Swearing or affirming willfully and falsely in a matter material to the issue or point in question; or
- Suborning, bribing or inducing any other person to make an unqualified statement or to swear or affirm in such a manner; or
- Executing an affidavit for a verification of a pleading which contains a false statement, or inducing any other person to do so; or
- Executing an affidavit or other instrument which contains a false statement before a person authorized to administer oaths, or inducing any other person to do so.
Under state law, making a statement that you do not know to be true is just as perjurious as intentionally lying.1
1.1. Federal Law
It is also a crime under federal law to give fraudulent information under oath. For more information, read our article on the federal crime of perjury.3
Subornation of perjury in Nevada is compelling another person to lie under oath or affirmation. It also comprises trading money or something of value for false testimony. Suborning perjury carries the same criminal fines and incarceration periods as perjury even though with suborning, you are not doing the lying yourself.
To establish subornation of perjury, the prosecution must prove you knowingly and willfully sought to procure, persuade, or induce another person to commit perjury. This requirement emphasizes your intentionality and active involvement in the commission of the crime.
Even if the other person refuses to lie under oath, you would then face charges for attempting to suborn perjury. Attempting to suborn perjury carries slightly lesser penalties than in cases where the perjury actually takes place.2
2.1. Why is the subornation of perjury punished like perjury?
The reason for treating the subornation of perjury as harshly as perjury is to deter people from compelling others to lie under oath. Nevada law also seeks to maintain public confidence in the legal system by showing that witness tampering is taken just as seriously as witnesses lying.
Furthermore, making the subornation of perjury a crime helps protect witnesses from coercive tactics, threats, or bribes. Plus if subornation was not a crime, witnesses may be tempted to accept money or favors in return for fabricating evidence on the stand.
Perjury is typically a category D felony in Nevada. The sentence is:
- 1 to 4 years in Nevada State Prison, and
- up to $5,000 in fines (at the judge’s discretion)4
It is a gross misdemeanor to attempt – without bribery – to suborn others to perjure yourself. The penalty is:
- up to 364 days in jail, and/or
- up to $2,000 in fines5
- life without the possibility of parole, or
- life with the possibility of parole after 20 years, or
- 50 years in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years6
Note that judges may punish you for perjury by holding you in criminal contempt of court (NRS 199.340). Also note there is no civil cause of action for perjuring. In other words, it is a crime but not a tort.
3.1. Federal penalties
Violating federal perjuring law carries a fine and/or up to 5 years in prison.7 If you are convicted of perjuring in both Nevada state and federal courts, you would serve the sentences consecutively (one after the other).
Three common defenses to fight NRS 199.120 criminal charges include:
- You never took an oath, or an oath was not required.8
- The false information was not material to the matter at hand.9
- You believed you were being truthful.
Note that it is not a defense to a Nevada perjury charge that the oath was not administered properly or that the witness was incompetent.10 Nor is it a defense that your attorney advised you to lie; but a jury may take this into account when determining your intent to lie.11
In any case, the prosecution has the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the district attorney falls short, the case should be dismissed.
Therefore, non-citizens charged with an NRS 199.120 violation should retain experienced counsel in an attempt to get the charges dismissed or reduced to a non-removable offense.
An NRS 199.120 conviction can be sealed 5 years after the case ends. Though if the charge gets dismissed, the record is sealable immediately. Learn how to seal Nevada criminal records.13
See our related articles on these criminal offenses:
- Malicious prosecution (NRS 199.310)
- Offering false evidence (NRS 199.210)
- Destroying evidence (NRS 199.220)
- Failure to attend jury duty (NRS 6.040)
- False impersonation of a peace officer, police officers, public officer, or public justice (NRS 199.430)
In California? See our article on Penal Code 118 PC.
- NRS 199.120; Licata v. State, 99 Nev. 331, 661 P.2d 1306 (Nevada Supreme Court 1983).
- 18 United States Code § 1621.
- Nevada Revised Statute 199.120. (Also see our article on judicial bribery, where judges make or receive bribes in violation of their official duties.); also see NRS 199.130 (making a false affidavit or complaint in order to effect an arrest or search), Nevada Revised Statute 199.140 (Use of fictitious name on affidavit or complaint to effect arrest or search), and Nevada Revised Statute 199.145 (Making a declaration under penalty of perjury (or inducing 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).
- NRS 199.120; NRS 199.130; NRS 199.140; NRS 199.145; NRS 193.130.
- Nevada Revised Statute 199.150.
- Nevada Revised Statute 199.160 (Procuring execution of innocent person).
- 18 U.S.C. § 1621.
- White v. State, 102 Nev. 153, 717 P.2d 45 (1986).
- Sheriff, Clark County v. Hecht, 101 Nev. 779, 710 P.2d 728 (1985).
- Nevada Revised Statute 199.180. (Irregularity in administering oath or incompetency of witness no defense).
- Cosio v. State, 106 Nev. 327, 793 P.2d 836 (1990).
- See, for example, Karpay v. Uhl, 70 F.2d 792 (2d Cir. 1934); Matter of Miguel Angel Alvarado, 26 I&N Dec. 895 (BIA 2016).
- Nevada Revised Statute 179.245; Nevada Revised Statute 179.255. Note that gross misdemeanor convictions under NRS 199.150 can be sealed 2 years after the case closes.