Perjury

The offence of perjury is outlined in section 131(1) of the Criminal Code.

A person commits the offence of perjury when they make a false statement under oath, solemn affirmation, solemn declaration, or by written affidavit knowing this statement is false and intending to mislead.

Examples

Person A swears in an affidavit they were the one driving a car so that person B, who actually was driving the car, will not be charged with a driving offence.

Person C testifies at trial that they have never appeared in court before as a jailhouse informant to seem more credible to the judge. Evidence shows that person C has appeared as an informant in many different cases.

Cases

R. v. Hansen, 2016 ONSC 3583

In R. v. Hansen, the accused, a police officer, was charged with perjury when he swore in a legal document used to request a search warrant that his informant had told him there was a handgun hidden inside a home. The officer was aware that the informant had intentionally planted the gun inside the home to set up the resident.

R. v. Barrie, 2014 ONCJ 43

In R. v. Barrie, the accused was charged with perjury when he testified at a bail hearing that his non-existent twin brother was driving his car, and then later testified that his friend was driving it. The accused had actually been the one driving the car, but his driver’s licence was suspended, and he lied to convince the court he was complying with this suspension. 3

Offence Specific Defence(s)

Not Required to Make the Statement

This offence does not apply to statements made where the person is not permitted, authorized, or required by law to make the statement. For example, if person A voluntarily makes a false and misleading verbal statement to police when briefly questioned on the street, they may not have completed the offence of perjury. However, this person could face other criminal liability such as obstructing justice charges.

Did not Know the Statement is False

Where the person does not know the statement they are making under oath, solemn affirmation, solemn declaration, or by written affidavit is false and believes themselves to be telling the truth, they have not have committed the offence of perjury. For example, where the questions presented to a witness at trial are confusing or unclear leading to inconsistent answers, this witness may not have completed the offence of perjury.

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