Elements of PerjuryFederal Proceeding Under Oath
The first element of a perjury offense is that the defendant must
under oath during his testimony, declaration or certification, unless the
perjurious statement is an unsworn declaration permitted by 28 U.S.C.
No specific form of oath is required. The oath must only be sufficiently
that the declarant is aware that he or she is under oath and required to
the truth. Proof of the competency and authority of the oath-giver may be
required for prosecutions under section 1621. See, United States
Debrow, 346 U.S. 374, 377 (1953) (indictments reinstated although
failed to allege name of oath administrator).|
PRACTICE TIP: This element may be proven by the testimony of a
witnessing the defendant's false testimony or, for perjury before the grand
by the transcript of the defendant's grand jury testimony. United States
Abroms, 947 F.2d 1241, 1247 (5th Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 505
1204 (1992). The jury may review the transcript during their deliberations.
United States v. Saget, 991 F.2d 702, 711 (11th Cir.), cert.
denied, 510 U.S. 950 (1993).
PRACTICE TIP: Although case law once considered the oath-giver's
authority a question of law, the United States Supreme Court held in
States v. Gaudin, 115 S.Ct. 2310 (1995)(18 U.S.C. § 1001
that the jury must decide all elements of the offense. Therefore, each
of the offense should now be explicitly referenced in jury instructions.
for section 1621 charges, a jury instruction should address the defendant
under a validly administered oath in a Federal proceeding while making the
declaration at issue. Section 1623 does not require proof of the identity,
authority and competence of the oath administrator, only that the defendant
testified under oath.
[cited in USAM 9-69.200]