Perjury is a serious offence in New South Wales. It involves making a false statement under oath, in proceedings in a judicial setting, where the truth is of utmost importance.

The team here at National Criminal Lawyers represent all types of criminal matters including dishonesty offences such as Perjury. Find out what we can do for you by clicking here.


Legal Definition of Perjury

Perjury, under Section 327 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), is defined as any person who, in any judicial proceeding, or in any proceeding to be taken as a judicial proceeding, makes any statement on oath, or swears the truth of any statement previously made, knowing that statement to be false or not believing it to be true. This definition underpins the necessity for the false statement to be made knowingly or without belief in its truth, highlighting the intent behind the act as an important element of the offence.

Remember it is always important to seek trusted legal advice if you find yourself being charged with Perjury. The Solicitors here are National Criminal Lawyers, will work with you to achieve the best outcome for your case.


Requirements for a Conviction

For a conviction of perjury to be successful in NSW, several elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The include:

  1. Jurisdictional Matter: The false statement must be made in or in relation to a judicial proceeding. This includes Courts as well as other tribunals or bodies authorized to take evidence under oath. This means that lying to someone cannot lead to a charge of perjury unless you were under oath or required to tell the truth.
  2. The Statement Was Made Under Oath: This encompasses all forms of legal affirmation, including sworn testimony in Court, sworn statements, and any other legal documents affirmed as true under penalty of perjury.
  3. How False was the Statement: The prosecution must prove that the statement was false. This often involves contrasting the statement with the facts as they are known.
  4. Knowledge of the Statement being False: The individual must have known the statement was false or not genuinely believed in its truth at the time it was made. This means that if an individual believes a lie to be true and repeats so in Court, they are not liable for the offence of perjury.



An extremely high-profile case of perjury was that of Marcus Enfield who was a previous Federal Court Judge. Marcus Enfield had lied to the Court in order to avoid a traffic fine worth $77 and three demerit points.

Enfield had completed a sworn statement placing the blame of the incident on a friend who he knew had died 3 years prior. Despite, the fine originally being dismissed, the Court was later made aware of the fact that the friend had been deceased and sentenced Enfield to 3 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of 2 years.



The penalties for perjury in NSW can be severe, reflecting the offence’s seriousness and its potential to undermine the justice system’s integrity. Under Section 327 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), a person convicted of perjury can face up to 10 years in prison. This penalty underscores the offence’s gravity and the judicial system’s reliance on truthful testimony to ensure justice is served.

However, a more severe form of the offence occurs where the false statement is shown to have been made with the intention of procuring the conviction or acquittal of a person for a serious offence. This form of perjury is treated with particular severity, given its potential to significantly impact the outcome of criminal proceedings and the lives of those involved. Hence, the maximum sentencing is 14 years as it “intends to pervert the course of justice” as per Section 319 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).


Difficulties in Prosecuting Perjury

Prosecuting perjury can be challenging for several reasons. Firstly, proving the accused knew their statement was false or did not believe it to be true can be difficult, requiring insight into the accused’s state of mind. Secondly, the need to demonstrate that the statement was capable of affecting the proceeding’s outcome adds an additional layer of complexity. This is especially difficult as the prosecution must prove the above to a standard of beyond reasonable doubt, having to also disprove any defences raised by the defence about such accusations beyond a reasonable doubt as well.



Defences to perjury can include the argument that the accused genuinely believed their statement to be true at the time it was made or that the statement was not material to the proceeding’s outcome. Additionally, if it can be shown that the statement was not made under oath or affirmation, or that the proceeding was not judicial in nature, these can also serve as defences to a charge of perjury. Defences such as Duress are also available to assist in such cases, providing an avenue of support to those forced to lie under oath, however, are not full defences. Defences must be proved on a balance of probability, a much easier standard to reach than that of beyond reasonable doubt. However, if the prosecution is seeking to argue the defence, they must disprove the defence beyond a reasonable doubt.



Perjury is a serious offence in NSW, with significant penalties reflecting its potential to undermine the judicial process. The offence requires a false statement to be made knowingly or without belief in its truth, under oath, in a judicial proceeding. The challenges of proving perjury, combined with the severe penalties for conviction, highlight the offence’s complexity and the importance of truthfulness in the legal system.

It is important to seek legal advice no matter what kind of trouble you are in, a specialist criminal lawyer will be able to assist you at all times, aiming to provide you the best outcome possible. Book a free consultation with us now by clicking here.

Get In Touch!

"*" indicates required fields