Lying Under Oath in Canada: What’s Important Thing to Know

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Lying, in whatever context, is usually frowned upon by most people. But nowadays, lying has become an essential tool to navigate society. It allows one to be polite in the most innocent of cases, but just like all tools, the outcome can be unsavoury if used for malicious purposes.

Lying under oath in Canada has become a common issue, as said by a judge recently. He expressed this jaded view due to the reality of people’s willingness to lie for their own or their loved one’s benefit, even under the penalty of perjury.

What is Lying Under Oath in Canada?

Lying under oath is the attempt by someone to deceive or mislead the law in a legal proceeding, using false, contradictory, or inaccurate statements, even after taking an oath, to tell the truth. It is usually done to deflect blame from themselves or to put the blame on someone else.

Most justice systems rely on the honesty of witness testimony, and if lying were commonplace in the courtroom, then our justice system would definitely be in chaos.

Judges and police officers do not take kindly to lying under oath as they see it as an offense against the judicial system.

What Can Happen If You’re Charged with Lying Under Oath?

Lying to the police of the court is always a bad idea, even for the victim of a crime. Therefore, you must always be very cautious when dealing with the law. If you lie against a theft charge or drug trafficking etc, you are directly trying to bias the justice system. And according to Candian law, you are committing a serious crime.

False statements outside the court can also be a chargeable offence if you are caught lying. There are many crimes you can be charged with depending on the circumstances of your lie.

What Sort of Crimes Can You Be Charged with for Lying Under Oath?

Here is a list of crimes you can be charged with for lying under oath.:

1. Perjury

Perjury basically happens when a person makes a false statement against someone under oath, with the intention to mislead. However, you cannot be prosecuted if you believe the account to be true at the time of making the statement.

2. Making a False Statement

Similar to perjury, making a false statement is charged when a person who is unauthorized or unrequired to make a statement does so, with the knowledge that it is false.

Unlike perjury, the prosecution is not required to prove that the statement provided was meant to mislead, only because they knew it was false.

3. Contradictory Evidence

This occurs when someone shares certain evidence or testimony at a legal proceeding, and in the next hearing, they give evidence or testimony that contradicts their previous statements.

Here, the prosecution only needs to prove the intention to mislead and not prove which of the evidence is false.

4. Fabricating Evidence

It occurs when a person with the intention to mislead fabricates any evidence intended to be used in a judicial proceeding.

This is usually a much more serious crime compared to perjury as it can lead to the prosecution charging an innocent of a crime

5. Obstructing Justice

It happens when someone intentionally obstructs, misleads, or stops justice from taking its course. This can include current or future proceedings or cases still in the initial investigative stage.

It can take place outside of the court proceedings, such as when a person withholds information regarding a crime from the police.

6. Public Mischief

Public mischief is when a person persuades a police officer to begin an investigation or continue with one, to mislead them.

This is often done to falsely accuse another person of a crime, deflecting suspicion towards another person. Such as reporting a false crime or death.

Can You Be Convicted for Lying Under Oath?

In Canada, lying under oath is prosecuted using Criminal Code, R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46 states if a person willfully misleads justice by saying untruthful statements in a judicial proceeding.

Lying under oath can only be proven by providing substantive evidence contradicting sworn statements made while under oath. Therefore, even if a true statement is misleading, it cannot be treated as a lie.

The prosecution must prove that the accused took the oath to testify truthfully under penalty of perjury. And the defendant knew the information was false while giving the testimony.

What Kind of Punishment Can You Expect for Lying Under Oath?

It is quite possible that nothing will happen to someone for committing perjury. However, if you do get charged and convicted, you can expect anywhere from a few months to a maximum of 14 years in prison.

The punishment usually depends on the severity of the crime. It’s common for punishments to range from a few months to 2 years. While in the case of public mischief, punishment can vary between a fine and jail time.

Famous Cases of Lying Under Oath in Canada

A high-profile case of lying under oath in Canada occurred in 2016 when four Toronto police officers had perjury charges against them.

They had pulled over and accused a man of transporting drugs, and one of them even went as far as to claim they found drugs even though it was untrue. They were suspended with pay and later put on trial.

Another interesting instance of perjury was that of a landlord who testified he had spent $2,800 on a linoleum floor replacement when in fact, he had not.

When the judge discovered the lie, the landlord was sentenced to 12 months in prison even though he had no criminal record, and thus it was a civil trial.

Conclusion

Lying under oath in Canada is considered a severe offence. Although this goes unpunished or undiscovered in many cases, it nonetheless affects every facet of society, especially the judicial system.

So, if you or your loved one have been charged with a crime related to lying under oath, you must seek legal help from a criminal defense lawyer immediately to navigate this complex case.

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