Perjury punishment varies by jurisdiction, but is always considered to be a serious offense and a threat to systems of justice everywhere. Offering a false testimony may result in a fine, imprisonment or both depending on the jurisdiction and the type of case that the false statement was given in. Punishment is also related to how a false testimony impacts the final decision in a case, if at all. In some jurisdictions, the punishment for perjury may be suspended if a person retracts or corrects her or his untrue statement prior to a final ruling on a particular case.
In some jurisdictions, there are varying levels of perjury in which a person can be punished for. For example, in the American state of Texas, perjury punishment for a false testimony given to an authority without forswearing is considered a misdemeanor perjury offense. Perjury punishment for such a crime may result in a monetary fine, a year in jail or both. If a false testimony is given during a court proceeding in a criminal case, however, the punishment may produce a significantly higher fine, as well as imprisonment for multiple years since this type of false testimony is often classified as felony perjury.
Although it is always illegal to intentionally give false or misleading information to law officials, in the United States, the punishment for perjury is usually only issued if the false testimony offered was pertinent to the final outcome of a case. Further, in the U.S., perjury punishment is rarely issued when false statements are given in civil lawsuits. A study done on perjury penalty during the 1990s revealed that a very small number of people strongly suspected of federal perjury offenses were ever actually charged or prosecuted.
Perjury does not always go unpunished in court, however. Perjury punishment for multiple false statements in a criminal proceeding often results in a person being incarcerated for several years. To avoid this, many who have been accused of lying during official proceedings hire a perjury attorney who specializes in defending individuals charged with this crime.
In Canada, the maximum perjury punishment is 14 years imprisonment. In other jurisdictions, such as France, it is not even possible to commit perjury in some cases, as individuals suspected of a crime are not allowed to testify under oath and are not held responsible for any false statements given during official criminal proceedings. Each jurisdiction decides its own punishment for perjury based on its overall effect on society.