UCMJ Article 131: Perjury
A service member of the United States Armed Forces who is found to have lied while offering sworn testimony or while providing a written declaration or statement will be subject to conviction and sentencing under Article 131 of the UCMJ.
You may believe the lie you told was harmless; that you lied to protect someone you care about; or maybe you assume that prosecutors have no way of discovering the lie. But all it takes is one witness or one new piece of evidence to come to light to seal your fate in front of a judge and jury.
- Perjury is a serious offense and you may be going to jail for a long time. Is it worth gambling your freedom on having an inexperienced defense attorney represent you?
- You’ve worked hard for your rank and position. It would be terrible to see the labors of that work disappear overnight.
- A punitive discharge guarantees the loss of your military retirement and your healthcare. The longer you’ve been in the military, the more you stand to lose if you’re found guilty.
What began as a lie—or accusations of a lie—could lead to the loss of all you hold dear. Do not put your future at risk. Fight back with the help of Bilecki & Tipon TODAY.
What Is Article 131 of the UCMJ?
Every punitive articles of the UCMJ requires prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a handful of critical assumptions—known as elements—to convict you of a crime. Article 131 defines two separate offenses, each with its own set of elements.
(1) Giving false testimony
- (a) That the accused took an oath or affirmation in a certain judicial proceeding or course of justice;
- (b) That the oath or affirmation was administered to the accused in a matter in which an oath or affirmation was required or authorized by law;
- (c) That the oath or affirmation was administered by a person having authority to do so;
- (d) That upon the oath or affirmation the accused willfully gave certain testimony;
- (e) That the testimony was material;
- (f) That the testimony was false; and
- (g) That the accused did not then believe the testimony to be true.
(2) Subscribing false statement
- (a) That the accused subscribed a certain statement in a judicial proceeding or course of justice;
- (b) That is the declaration, certification, verification, or statement under penalty of perjury, the accused declared, certified, verified, or stated the truth of that certain statement;
- (c) That the accused willfully subscribed the statement;
- (d) That the statement was material;
- (e) That the statement was false; and
- (f) That the accused did not then believe the statement to be true.
Summary of the Elements of Article 131: You may be convicted of perjury if you offered up in a sworn testimony or written declaration a statement which you knew at the time to be false. Prosecutors must, therefore, prove that a) the testimony was properly taken (i.e. authorized by law and administered by an authorized person), b) that the testimony or statement was material and therefore had direct bearing on the case at hand, and c) that you knew at the time that your statement or testimony was untrue.
Military Defense Lawyer for Article 131 of the UCMJ: Strategies and Tactics
A perjury defense may involve many different strategies and tactics. For instance, we may perform an investigation into how the sworn testimony was taken. We may look at whether or not the alleged perjury had a material bearing on the matter at hand. Lastly, we can point to evidence which exonerates our client of having knowingly lied at all.
Here are some of the questions we’ll consider while preparing your defense:
- Proper legal protocol. Was all sworn testimony properly taken? Did the individual who requested the sworn testimony have the authority to do so? Were all documents properly notarized?
- Nature of the statement or testimony. Does the statement or testimony have a material bearing on the outcome of the case in question? Would the outcome of the matter have been different if the accused had told the truth?
- Knowledge of false testimony. Did the accused know that he or she was lying at the time the sworn testimony or written statements were given? Was anything unclear about the question which could have elicited an incorrect statement?
What began as a lie to protect someone could destroy your military career and land you behind bars. Do not take the risk. Contact us TODAY for a free consultation into your case.
Experienced Military Defense Lawyers for Article 131 Charges
Bilecki & Tipon has been serving members of the armed forces for decades. Our case history as court-martial attorneys is proof that experience and aggressive defense tactics are a winning combination in court. If you’ve been accused of perjury and don’t want to put your future in the hands of an inexperienced military defense attorney, then make the call to Bilecki & Tipon today.
Bilecki & Tipon will help you fight back against charges under Article 131: Perjury
FAQ'S About Article 131
What Is the Maximum Possible Punishment for Article 131: Perjury?
A service member convicted under Article 131 for charges of perjury is subject to a maximum sentence which includes:
- Reduction to E-1
- Forfeiture of all pay and allowances
- Confinement for 5 years
- Dishonorable discharge
I Perjured Myself for a Good Reason. Will This Influence My Case at All?
No. Prosecutors do not care why you perjured yourself. And your intentions for lying under oath are no defense for perjury. Whether you did so to protect a friend or were afraid to offer the truth out of fear for your safety is immaterial to your case.
Your defense team will still benefit from hearing your full story. But your intentions—however good or sincere—for lying under oath are not going to hold up in court.