Under Arrest - O is for Oath

Photo by Chris Leipelt on Unsplash

Welcome back to A-Z. Today's letter is O and it stands for O.J. Simpson. Kidding. Not touching that case. 

Today O is for Oath. As in "testifying under oath". It's the process that involves swearing on the Bible that you'll tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth, so help you God - and then you say "I do" - and mean it.

If you lie under oath you commit perjury - as long as the part you lied about was material - if you say you had chicken salad for lunch that day and it was in fact a tuna melt, nobody is going to give you a hard time, but if you testify the person you had lunch with arrived on time and never left the table until you had coffee and paid for your meal, knowing full well that your lunch date got a phone call and stepped out for what felt like a good half hour, and it turns out within that time frame the person drove the getaway vehicle that helped their buddies who just stole some jewelry next door to escape, you may be in trouble. 

Another element of perjury, however, is "intent". The longer ago a specific event took place, the fuzzier your memory may become, so if you simply can't remember every single detail that's one thing, but if you knowingly give a false statement and get caught, they may send you to prison for up to five years. 

In the case of the half hour your lunch date left the table, prosecution would have to prove that you knew about the robbery, which may be tricky. Let's hope you don't have any texts or emails showing your involvement!

One way to expose a person who lied on the stand is to go back to when you were preparing for this trial. In a meeting called "deposition" witnesses tell their version of an event. Typically it is videotaped or there's a transcript that all parties sign, so this qualifies as being under oath.

This deposition can be used during trial. If the witness tells something different in court than he did back at the office, you can call them out for their contradictory statement and challenge his credibility. 

Not sure how serious prosecutors are about following through on perjury charges, though. 

There are a few incidents that come to my mind where witnesses tried to protect their loved ones or were paid good money to give false testimony.

There was for example Cindy Anthony who claimed that it was her who googled "chloroform" - however, at the time the relevant websites were viewed, Cindy verifiably was at work, so it must have been Casey after all.

And how about that medical expert Dr. Charles March who was being paid by Scott Peterson's defense team. He testified that based on bone measurements of the baby's remains that were found four months after Laci's disappearance, the fetus died on December 29, 2002, at the earliest, five days after Scott allegedly killed his pregnant wife. 

Now that would sort of prove that someone other than Scott abducted Laci and kept her alive for about a week before killing her.

What did the gynecologist base his assumption on? 

"Laci's pregnancy test on June 9" he replied. 

May we see medical records confirming this?
"Laci told her girlfriend on June 9 that a home-pregnancy test came back positive."

Now that's what we call rock solid scientific evidence ;-)

It must have been hard to examine the baby, considering decomposition, but in that case I think the forensic anthropologist who also testified and said she calculated the fetus' age at between 33 and 38 weeks at death sounds more credible and honest.

We also have to consider it was 2002. Technology has massively progressed since then.

I must know, I was pregnant in 2008, and during my last ultrasound a week or two prior to my due date, my gynecologist told me my baby's estimated height and weight. Those estimates were way off. The good news was they were too low - had I known how big Colin was going to be I'd have been more scared!!

Speaking of 2008, as happy as this year was for me personally, I feel like so many murder cases happened that year: Travis Alexander, Caylee Anthony,  Lindsay Buziak

Back to the topic at hand: If you ever get into the situation that may cause you to lie under oath - think about it long and hard. Would the person you're trying to protect do the same for you? I believe not. How would you feel if your friend walked free and you ended up in prison?

If you were somehow involved, and you're not only lying for the person who is accused, but also to save your own butt, you may "plead the fifth" - meaning you refuse to answer questions that might incriminate you.

There you go.

Be safe and be good! Thanks for reading, see you back tomorrow.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


  1. sweet. i was thinking cindy anthony the moment i read your title for today. :D maybe it was that but something really irked me about that lady. i saw the recent interview with the parents and she is still very stubborn and annoying. i know it must be hard to imagine your daughter a murderer but she should also think about her granddaughter :(

    Joy at The Joyous Living

  2. Lying is one of the things I get most upset about and one of the things I absolutely avoid doing. Another great post!

  3. I don't think those who lie under oath put much stock in their oath.

  4. Telling a lie in court is definitely a bad idea, but there are definite differences between poor memory and outright lie.


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