The Law: Perjury Carries Serious Consequences

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Bt Stanford Conway

The Observer

In our last discussion of Perjury, we dealt primarily with inconsistent or contradictory statements and also with some of the terms used in court as well as the punishment that can be awarded.

I also promised to publish what the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) said concerning aiders, abettors, suborners and false statements with reference to marriage, births and deaths, which are all offences that fall under the St. Christopher and Nevis Perjury Act Number Two of 2005.

The DPP said that anyone who aided, abetted, counselled, procured or suborned another person to commit an offence against the Perjury Act would be liable to be prosecuted and punished as if he were a principal offender.

He also said that any person who incited or attempted to procure or suborn another person to commit an offence against the same Act committed an offence and would be liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than one year and not more than two years, or a fine of not less than EC$5, 000 and not more than EC$10, 00 or both.

The DPP explained that while the terms, aid is to help, abet is to encourage and procure is to get or make available, the most seemingly complexed term, suborn, means to persuade another to do wrong.

He noted that, in the past, many cases of similar offences were before the courts and some of them were either dismissed or the perpetrators fined according to the old Law. But, with the amended Act coming on stream with higher penalties, it was hoped that people would desist from committing such crimes.

Speaking to the subject of false statement Merchant said that it had many categories.

He explained that false statements on oath made otherwise than in a judicial proceeding refer to any person who, “being required or authorised by law to make any statement on oath for any purpose, and being lawfully sworn wilfully makes a statement which is material for that purpose and which he knows to be or does not believe to be true; or wilfully uses any false affidavit for the purposes of the Bills of Sale Act; commits an offence and on conviction on indictment shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not less than seven years and not more than 10 years, or a fine of not less than EC$30, 000 and not more than EC$50, 000 or both.”

With respect to false statements with reference to marriage, he noted that any person who for the purpose of procuring a marriage or a certificate or licence for marriage, knowingly and wilfully made a false oath or made or signed a false declaration, notice or certificate required under any enactment for the time being in force relating to marriage committed an offence and would be subjected to the same penalties as the abovementioned.

“The same penalty goes for any one who knowingly and wilfully makes, or knowingly and wilfully causes to be made, for the purpose of being inserted in any register of marriages, a false statement as to any particular required by law to be known and registered to any marriage.

“Further,” he added, “anyone who forbids the issue of any certificate or licence for marriage by falsely representing himself to be a person whose consent to the marriage is required by law, knowing such representation to be false, also commits an offence and will suffer the same consequences.”

He however noted that prosecution for an offence against the false statements with reference to marriage would not be commenced more than three years after the commission of the offence.

The DPP said that false statements as to births and deaths carried the same penalties as those of marriage and oath made otherwise than in a judicial proceeding.

“According to Section Seven of the Perjury Act of 2005, any person who wilfully makes any false answer to any question put to him by any registrar of births or deaths relating to the particulars required to be registered concerning any birth or death, or wilfully gives to any such registrar any false information concerning any birth or the cause of any death; or

“Wilfully makes any false certificate or declaration under or for the purpose of any enactment relating to the registration of births or deaths, or, knowing any such certificate or declaration to be false, uses it as true or gives or sends it as true to any person; or

“Wilfully makes, gives or uses any false statement or declaration as to a child born alive as having been still-born, or as to the body of a deceased person or a still-born child in any coffin, or falsely pretends that any child born alive was still-born; or

“Makes any false statement with intent to have it inserted in any register of births or deaths, commits an offence, and on conviction shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than seven years and not more than 10 years, or a fine of not less than EC$30, 000 and not more than EC$ 50, 000 or both.”

He added that a prosecution for an offence against this section would not be commenced more than three years after the commission of the offence.

The DPP also said that a person who knowingly and wilfully made otherwise than an oath, a statement false in a material particular and the it was made in a voluntary declaration or in an abstract, account, balance sheet, book, certificate, declaration, entry, estimate, inventory, notice, report, return or other document in which he is authorised or required to make, attest or verify by any enactment for the time being; or in any oral declaration or oral answer, which he was required to make by, under, or in pursuance of any enactment for the time being in force committed an offence and would be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not less than two years and not more than five years, or a fine ranging from EC$10, 000 to EC$30, 000 or both.

In the next issue we will continue the discussion on The Perjury Act where we will deal with false declaration to obtain registration and forms of indictment.