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Can the phrase "under penalty of perjury" sometimes be used as a threat and not anything serious?

Saint Louis, MO |

I read an online article that gave different definitions to various law terminology, and it said that sometimes "under penalty of perjury" is used as a way to scare people into telling the truth even though the threat of perjury is an empty one. I am not sure if this is correct or not and I was curious

Attorney Answers 3


A person can be held in contempt of court for lying in court. "Under penalty of perjury" is a reminder that the witness is under oath and that lying in court is punishable. If the witness takes this as a scare tactic to tell the truth, then it is a scare tactic. I would not consider this an empty threat, although it may be difficult to prove somebody was lying.

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It may be. If it is a sworn legal document, then perjury would be in play if it is a lie.

NEVER describe your facts in an online forum. I have CONFIRMED there is at least ONE county prosecutor that is a member of this site. My statements are my opinion solely based on the information provided, and that opinion can be wrong if your facts are different than what I believed them to be. If you have any further questions, you can contact me at 636-532-1400 or through my website

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It is not an empty threat.

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