New York Penal Law § 210.05: Perjury in the third degree

Perjury is a criminal offense that involves purposely making false statements under oath. For example, if a witness in a lawful civil or criminal proceeding pledges to a judge, notary public, or other official to tell the truth and fails to do so, that witness has committed perjury. In order to have committed perjury you must have made a statement. Simply failing to speak or answer a written question is not perjury. In addition, perjury requires the knowledge that the statements made were untrue. If you make a statement that is false, but you believed it to be true, you did not commit perjury. Under New York Penal Law § 210.05 you could be charged with perjury in the third degree if you make false statements under oath. In New York Penal Law § 210.00(1) the term "oath" is defined as any method authorized by law to affirm the truth of a statement.


Simon was a process server who was required to sign an affidavit that he personally served documents to a particular individual. Simon had not in fact served the documents as he was unable to locate the person, but was confident that he would be able to serve the person in the next couple of days. If Simon signs the affidavit, he would have committed perjury.

David met with a paralegal to make an affidavit about certain facts related to a real estate transaction. David was not completely truthful when he answered the questions. In fact, he knowingly lied about a central issue related to the property involved in the real estate transaction. The paralegal had to type the affidavit. So she asked David to return the next day to sign it. David never returned. While David did make false statements, he never signed the affidavit. He did not commit perjury.

Related Offenses
  1. Making an apparently sworn false statement in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 210.40
  2. Making a punishable written false statement: New York Penal Law § 210.45

You would not be guilty of perjury if you made a false statement, but then retracted it before it substantially affected the proceeding and before it became obvious that its falsity would be exposed.

Another defense would be that you made a mistake. In other words, if you made a statement under oath that you believed was true but was not in fact true, then you would not have committed perjury. For example, defendant Martin Dwyer was convicted of perjury in the third degree based on falsely testifying that he used a registered Smith and Wesson gun instead of an unregistered Colt gun. However, the conviction was overturned based on Dwyer's defense that he thought that he grabbed the Smith and Wesson gun, which was stored along with the Colt in the glove compartment of his vehicle. People v. Dwyer, 653 N.Y.S.2d 49 (N.Y.A.D. 4 Dept., 1996)

If the statement that you made was in fact the truth, then you did not commit perjury. While it may appear as if you are lying, the manner in which the question was asked or the manner in which you interpreted the question may have made it seem as if you lied when you did not.


Perjury in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor. If you are convicted your sentence could include up to a year in jail, a probation term of 3 years, and payment of a fine.

New York Penal Law § 210.05: Perjury in the third degree

A person is guilty of perjury in the third degree when he swears falsely.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Perjury in the third degree is a serious crime. The penalty for committing this crime is that you could be sent to jail for up to a year. If you are under investigation for committing this crime, it is important that you are represented by someone with experience to ensure that your rights are protected. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with felonies and misdemeanors in violation of New York state law and federal law. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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