False Sworn Statements in New York
Making a false written or sworn statement is a crime that can land you in some serious trouble. A private citizen or a government official can make these written or sworn false statements.
Some examples might be:
- A private citizen lying on a signed witness statement
- A police officer falsifying reports for a crime he is investigating
Have You Been Charged with Making a False Written or Sworn Statement in New York?
Making a false written or sworn statement is more commonly charged than you may think in New York. With so many official documents involved in our everyday lives, you may find yourself facing these charges.
Possible instances where charges of making a false written or sworn statement may occur:
- You make a written statement on an official document that you do not believe to be true.
- A police officer makes inaccurate statements in his police report about the conduct of a suspect prior to the use of force by the officer.
- A citizen files an improper use of force complaint with the local police department, giving a timeline of events that are directly contradicted by the officer’s body cam footage.
The Legal Definition of Making a False Written or Sworn Statement
New York Penal Code: Articles 210.35, 210.40, and 210.45 outlines the crimes of making false statements. The penalties for making false statements depend on the surrounding circumstances.
The level of fault varies based on the seriousness and impact of the false statement. Crimes of making false statements are broken into two offenses: making an apparently sworn false statement (in the first or second degree), and making a punishable false written statement.
Making a Plainly Sworn False Statement in the Second Degree
The crime of making a plainly sworn false statement in the second degree is described in NY PL Section 210.35. In order to be convicted of this crime, the prosecutor must prove all of the following elements:
- You endorsed a written instrument with the knowledge that the instrument contained a statement you did not believe was true or knew to be false.
- You believe or intend for the instrument to be delivered with an accompanying notarization.
- The instrument is delivered in the manner you believed or intended it to.
Making an Apparently Sworn False Statement in the First Degree
The crime of making an apparently sworn false statement in the first degree is codified in NY PL Section 210.40. In order for you to be convicted of this crime the prosecution must prove each of the following:
- The written instrument involved requires an oath.
- The false statement contained within the instrument is made with the purpose of misleading a public servant in the performance of official duties.
- The false statement is material to the matter at hand.
Making a Punishable False Written Statement
The crime of making a punishable false written statement is defined in NY PL Section 210.45. In order for you to be convicted of this crime the prosecution must prove each of the following:
- You made a statement you do not believe to be true or know to be false.
- The false statement is made on an instrument containing a notice that making a false statement on the said instrument is punishable by law.
Elements of the Crime
Although the elements of the three crimes do not align perfectly, there are some commonalities that must be proved in each of the three instances. The two most basic elements of the offenses are making a statement you do not believe is true or know to be false, and making the statement on an instrument some legal significance. The legal significance of the instrument will affect the degree of the offense.
“Apparently False” Statements
In order to be guilty of the crime of making a false statement, you must make a sworn statement that is false. A statement qualifies as “apparently false” when you either affirmatively know that a statement is false or when you do not believe a statement to be true. It should be noted that you need not know for a fact that a statement that you made is untrue, but the fact that you believe it to be untrue may be enough.
The severity of the offense is determined by the surrounding circumstances of the false statement, such as the form and the setting.
Difference Between First and Second Degree Charges
If the false statement is made under oath, the offense will elevate from the second to the first degree. Also, a false statement made with the purpose of impeding a public servant in the performance of official duties may rise to a first-degree offense.
The other sections of Article 210 of the New York Penal Code maintain the crime of perjury has varying degrees, outline how to handle inconsistent statements, as well as what is and is not a defense to perjury. The statutes related to perjury are outlined below.
Perjury in the third degree
- NY PL Section 210.05 – you commit perjury in the third degree when you swear falsely.
- Perjury in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor and carries with it a maximum of one (1) year in prison, or three (3) years probation and a fine of up to $1,000 may be imposed.
Perjury in the second degree
- NY PL Section 210.10:
- The crime of perjury rises to the second degree when you make false written statements in an instrument for which an oath is required.
- You intend for this false statement to impede the official duties of a public servant.
- The false statement is material to the matter at hand.
- Perjury in the second degree is a class E felony and carries a maximum sentence of four (4) years in prison.
Perjury in the first degree
- NY PL Section 210.15:
- The crime of perjury rises to the first degree when the false statement is material to the matter at hand and is testimonial in nature.
- Perjury in the first degree is a class D felony and carries a maximum sentence of seven (7) years in prison.
Perjury: pleading and proof where inconsistent statements involved
- NY PL Section 210.20: If you make two statements under oath that contradict to the point one of them must necessarily be false, it need not be proven which of the statements is untrue in order for you to be convicted.
For example, If Todd makes a statement under oath that he was at Yankee Stadium on July 4th, 2018 at noon and subsequently states under oath that he was at a bar in Pensacola Florida at 2pm on July 4th, 2018, it need not be proven which location he was actually at in order to be convicted of perjury.
As such, You may be convicted for the highest degree of perjury possible, assuming each of the statements to be false.
- NY PL Section 210.25: In the case of perjury, an affirmative defense is available if you retract the false statement within the course of the proceeding, and the retraction is made before the false statement had a substantial impact on the matter.
Perjury: no defense
- According to NY PL Section 210.30, the following are NOT defenses to perjury:
- You were not competent to make the false statement.
- You mistakenly believed the false statement was immaterial.
- The oath was administered was defective in an excusable way.
Agencies Investigating and Prosecuting Making False Statement Crimes
Any number of agencies may get involved in the investigation of charges of making false written or sworn statements. The agency investigating the allegations of making false written or sworn statements is likely to be the same agency investigating the original matter for which the sworn statement was made.
In many cases, one agency may work in concert with other law enforcement agencies at the local, state, or federal level. The crimes of making false written or sworn statement impact the integrity of the judiciary and the court system as a whole. Suffice it to say that no cost will be spared in prosecuting these types of offenses.
Penalties for Making False, Written or Sworn Statements
The penalties for making false written or sworn statements vary depending on the degree of the crime. The penalties are as follows:
- Making an apparently sworn false statement in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor, and carries the following punishments:
- One year in prison
- Three (3) years probation
- A $1,000 fine
- Making an apparently sworn false statement in the first degree is a class E felony, and carries the following punishments:
- Four (4) years in prison
- Making a punishable false written statement is a class A misdemeanor, and carries the following punishments:
- One year in prison
- Three (3) years probation
- A $1,000 fine
Because making an apparently sworn false statement in the first degree is a class E felony there some additional aspects of punishment that must be considered.
Loss of Rights for Felons in New York
If you are convicted of a felony, such as making an apparently sworn false statement in the first degree, you stand to face some penalties other than those specifically outlined in your sentence. After a felony conviction, some federal benefit programs will be inaccessible, such as welfare and federally subsidized housing.
Felons also may be prevented from gaining certain operating or professional licenses. Furthermore, convicted felons are not allowed to purchase firearms or vote. With such important rights on the line, it is crucial to have an experienced legal professional on your side, explaining all of your options and the consequences associated with them.
Since making an apparently sworn false statement in the first degree is a felony, enhanced sentencing will become a reality for you. Prior criminal history may impact the severity of the penalty for the crime at issue.
Additionally, going forward, you must be cognizant of the impact that a prior felony conviction will have for any subsequent convictions and sentences in order to understand how sentencing enhancements may impact your case call one of our knowledgeable attorneys today.
Legal Defenses to Making an Apparently Sworn False Statement
If you are charged with making an apparently sworn false statement, there may be some defenses available to you, such as:
Defense #1 – False statement not made knowingly
You may be able to argue that you did not know that the sworn statement you were making was false. You may have simply misremembered the facts at the time that you made the statement. You may have gotten your days confused and been talking about a time frame other than the time frame in question.
You may have confused the parties involved and been speaking about John Thompson and not John Smith. If there has been a mix-up or confusion regarding the statement in question, you may have a defense to the accusation.
Defense #2 – Truth of Statement
If you are facing charges for making an apparently sworn false statement, you have a defense. In some cases, the truth you speak may appear to be false to others. If you are able to prove the truth of the statement you made this would be an absolute defense.
For instance, if you are charged with making an apparently sworn false statement for filing a police report for excessive use of force, and your account is later confirmed by body cam footage, the truth of your original statement would be a defense to the charges.
We Are Here To Help, Call Us Now!
Making false sworn statements is one of the most aggressively prosecuted crimes in New York. Due to the immense amount of official forms, and the massive amount of people living in New York, it is essential that sworn statements be made truthfully. Because this crime is injurious to the performance of the official duties of public servants, the prosecution can be swift and harsh.
Do not go through any step of this legal process without the benefit of a lawyer you can trust. With jail time, fines, and possibly even additional penalties for convicted felons, there is no time to waste.
For any question about making false sworn statements in New York, or to have a confidential discussion with one of our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys, please reach out and contact us today. We have an office nearby that can assist you.