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A perjurer is a person who has committed the crime of perjury; that is, they have knowingly lied or given misleading testimony–either written or verbal–after swearing an oath to be truthful. According to 18 U.S.C. § 1621, this oath must have been administered “before a competent tribunal, officer, or person” in the course of any case that authorizes the administration of an oath. This can include courts, grand juries, and Congress, among other agencies. Further, a person can become a perjurer if they sign a document “under penalty of perjury” stating that all of its contents are “true and correct,” pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1746.

A perjurer faces criminal consequences. They can be fined, imprisoned for not more than five years, or both. Similar consequences can be faced by someone who convinces another person to become a perjurer. This is called subornation of perjury and is governed by 18 U.S.C. § 1622.

[Last updated in August of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]