General Question

luigirovatti's avatar

Why in the USA if you commit perjury you go to prison from one to five years (may vary based on the state), whereas in Canada is up to 14 years?

Asked by luigirovatti (2820points) December 5th, 2020

I want to make clear right from the beginning, but it should be obvious, that I’m not in favour of perjury. What I am against is the great amount of time which a person who commits perjury must stay in jail for. I mean, 14 years for perjury are roughly 1/6 of a person’s life. Is it really considered in Canada one of the worst crimes that could happen out there? I hope I’m not sounding biased, but to make sure I’m not, here are the sources of my research:


132 Every one who commits perjury is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 132R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 171998, c. 35, s. 119”)

(Ӥ1621. Perjury generally

(1) having taken an oath before a competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any case in which a law of the United States authorizes an oath to be administered, that he will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly, or that any written testimony, declaration, deposition, or certificate by him subscribed, is true, willfully and contrary to such oath states or subscribes any material matter which he does not believe to be true; or

(2) in any declaration, certificate, verification, or statement under penalty of perjury as permitted under section 1746 of title 28, United States Code, willfully subscribes as true any material matter which he does not believe to be true;

is guilty of perjury and shall, except as otherwise expressly provided by law, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. This section is applicable whether the statement or subscription is made within or without the United States.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 773; Pub. L. 88–619, §1, Oct. 3, 1964, 78 Stat. 995; Pub. L. 94–550, §2, Oct. 18, 1976, 90 Stat. 2534; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, §330016(1)(I), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)”)

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18 Answers

Darth_Algar's avatar

Because the United States and Canada are different countries with different laws.

luigirovatti's avatar

@Darth_Algar: Thank you, but I was looking if someone had a opinion more, what can I say, educated about the matter.

Jeruba's avatar

How could more education affect the fact that @Darth_Algar just stated?

luigirovatti's avatar

@Jeruba: He just stated what I, I presume yourself, but I also presume many Fluther jellies could know, or even guess, as the answer to this question. I’m looking for a more informed opinion, and I’m merely speculating that a person with more education might be more “prone” to such opinions.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I’ll Guess ! ! !

You’re guilty until you prove otherwise in Turkey.

Brian1946's avatar

Offhand, I’d say it could be that Canadian law regards wrongful convictions and false imprisonments, about 3 times as seriously as US law does.
Although those aren’t the only results of perjured testimony, they’re probably their primary concerns.

I know of one jelly who I think is a lawyer, but he hasn’t been here for almost 7 years.

Darth_Algar's avatar


Honestly, I doubt any of us here are going to have any kind of meaningful, informed answer to your question. You have a lot of these oddly specific legal questions, for some reason. You might be better off finding a legal forum to ask them on rather than here.

Pandora's avatar

Whatever the reason for the difference, it doesn’t matter. You are asking the wrong question. Why would someone knowing they could go to jail for perjury do so? When I worked in a bank I always told co-workers not to do anything illegal in my presence or even tell me about it because I won’t lie for them. I don’t plan to ever go to jail for someone else crime. If my plans were to go to jail, I would become a criminal, and no matter how friendly we are, I will sing loudly. So why would anyone in Canada risk going to jail for 14 years?

Now it could be that 14 years is a way better deterrent in Canada than 5 years here. With 14 year here, maybe some people would rather tell the truth as well. For example, if I’m accused of a crime and I lie on my behalf on the stand and later they see me on video committing the crime, do I get 14 year plus, lets say 2 for the actual crime? If so maybe it frees up the courts with people admitting to the crime instead of adding an additial 14 years.

When my kids were little I use to tell them that its better to tell me the truth because lying comes with higher consequences. If they didn’t do their homework and told me they did, then they were grounded for an extra week instead of just 2 days. So they would be grounded for 9 days. If they had a good reason for not doing their homework, then of course they didn’t even get grounded.
But if there were no consequences for perjury, then everyone would lie and a lot more criminals would be walking the street.
The only thing I can say is that Canada must hold honesty at a higher value than the US.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Because different countries have different laws.

jca2's avatar

No, @Lightlyseared, that answer is not good enough! ~~

dxs's avatar

You could look at how these laws were developed in each country.

Jeruba's avatar

The OP appears to be asking for a fact: what is the reason for the difference between x and y? The question is not worded as one that is asking for an opinion.

That’s why @Darth_Algar‘s answer should suffice. Obviously different factors were in play in the establishment of those laws. In Thailand it is a serious crime to criticize the monarch. People go to prison for longer than perjurers in Canada. Why is that? And why are the laws different from ours? Different cultures, different histories, different models, different priorities, different lawmaking bodies, etc., etc.

It should not take much of an education to understand that different countries have different laws. Different states have different laws. Even different counties, cities, and towns have some different laws. So the pertinent fact here is, these are two different countries. That is not a matter of opinion.

Perhaps the question ought to be worded differently if a different sort of answer is sought.

luigirovatti's avatar

@Jeruba: I merely phrased the question this way because I thought there would’ve been some knowledge of this in this forum, but as no one appear to know, perhaps I should’ve said “Why do you think…”, “Why do you suppose…”, etc., or at the very least, post the question in the social. Oh, well, now you know.

And anyway, opinion or not, @Darth_Algar‘s answer, in itself, was completely obvious to understand. I expected merely more (not necessarily in the right way :( ).

zenvelo's avatar

@luigirovatti Remember that Canada may have different standards for perjury than the United States.

In the US you can be convicted of perjury for signing an inaccurate document. I don’t know if that happens in Canada.

The most common federal crime for conviction is “not being truthful to a Federal officer.” That’s what got Martha Stewart in jail,not her insider trading, but her lying about it when questioned.

Different countries have different punishments because they have different standards. It’s like the difference in libel laws. In the US you not only have to prove a false statement was made in a published matter, but you have to show damages.

In Canada, you do not need to prove that you suffered damages—you only need to prove that a false statement with a permanent record was made about you to a third party, and the court will presume that damages were suffered.

Besides, if you lie in Canada, you are besmirching the national character (unless it’s about Hockey, everyone lies about hockey.)

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Dutchess_III's avatar

Why is it that when you steal something in America you’re given a logical punishment but if you steal something in Saudia Arabia they cut your hands off! At least that’s what the Saudie exchange student I dated for about 10 minutes in college told me.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Canadians have less tolerance for liars.

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