It is a crime in Canada to lie to the police and/or the court.
If someone is caught misleading or lying to the police or the Court it may result in them being charged with a criminal offence.
The criminal offences that someone may be charged with can be found in the section of the Criminal Code of Canada dealing with Misleading Justice.
What are the criminal offences someone may be charged with under the Criminal Code for lying to the Police and/or the Court?
When someone makes a false statement under oath or solemn affirmation, or makes a false statement by affidavit, solemn declaration or deposition they have committed perjury .
In order for someone accused of perjury to be found guilty, they must be aware that the statement they made was false and they must have intended to mislead.
Section 131 pertains to the criminal offence of perjury:
131 (1) Subject to subsection (3), every one commits perjury who, with intent to mislead, makes before a person who is authorized by law to permit it to be made before him a false statement under oath or solemn affirmation, by affidavit, solemn declaration or deposition or orally, knowing that the statement is false.
Every person who gives evidence under subsection 46(2) of the Canada Evidence Act, or gives evidence or a statement pursuant to an order made under section 22.2 of the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, commits perjury who, with intent to mislead, makes a false statement knowing that it is false, whether or not the false statement was made under oath or solemn affirmation in accordance with subsection (1), so long as the false statement was made in accordance with any formalities required by the law of the place outside Canada in which the person is virtually present or heard.
(2) Subsection (1) applies, whether or not a statement referred to in that subsection is made in a judicial proceeding.
(3) Subsections (1) and (1.1) do not apply to a statement referred to in either of those subsections that is made by a person who is not specially permitted, authorized or required by law to make that statement.
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Someone may be charged with making a false statement.
This occurs when a person, who is not authorized or required by law to make a statement, makes such a statement by affidavit, solemn declaration or deposition, knowing that the statement is false.
You cannot be convicted if you made a false statement but you reasonably believed the statement to be true at the time you made it.
The false statement does not have to be made in court. Making a false statement under oath to the police will constitute perjury as well.
Unlike perjury in order to convict someone of making a false statement, the Crown does not have to prove that the accused intended to mislead when they made their false statement, only that they knew it to be false.
Witness Giving Contradictory Evidence in Court:
This occurs when a witness gives contradictory evidence when he or she gives evidence at a judicial proceeding and then gives contradictory evidence at a judicial proceeding.
The Crown Attorney must prove that the person giving contradictory evidence intended to mislead the Court. However, the Crown Attorney does not need to prove which of the contradictory evidence is false.
Witness giving contradictory evidence is found in Section 136 of the Criminal Code:
136. (1) Every one who, being a witness in a judicial proceeding, gives evidence with respect to any matter of fact or knowledge and who subsequently, in a judicial proceeding, gives evidence that is contrary to his previous evidence is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years, whether or not the prior or later evidence or either is true, but no person shall be convicted under this section unless the court, judge or provincial court judge, as the case may be, is satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused, in giving evidence in either of the judicial proceedings, intended to mislead.
Evidence in specific cases
(1.1) Evidence given under section 714.1, 714.2, 714.3 or 714.4 or under subsection 46(2) of the Canada Evidence Act or evidence or a statement given pursuant to an order made under section 22.2 of the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act is deemed to be evidence given by a witness in a judicial proceeding for the purposes of subsection (1).
Definition of “evidence”
(2) Notwithstanding the definition “evidence” in section 118, “evidence”, for the purposes of this section, does not include evidence that is not material.
Proof of former trial
(2.1) Where a person is charged with an offence under this section, a certificate specifying with reasonable particularity the proceeding in which that person is alleged to have given the evidence in respect of which the offence is charged, is evidence that it was given in a judicial proceeding, without proof of the signature or official character of the person by whom the certificate purports to be signed if it purports to be signed by the clerk of the court or other official having the custody of the record of that proceeding or by his lawful deputy.
(3) No proceedings shall be instituted under this section without the consent of the Attorney General.
Fabricating evidence occurs when a person, who intends to mislead, fabricates anything which is intended to be used in a judicial proceeding.
Section 137 pertains to fabricating evidence:
137 Every one who, with intent to mislead, fabricates anything with intent that it shall be used as evidence in a judicial proceeding, existing or proposed, by any means other than perjury or incitement to perjury is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.
Obstructing justice occurs when a person wilfully attempts to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice. This includes existing and proposed judicial proceedings, as well as matters that are at the investigatory stage.
Section 139 pertains to Obstructing justice
139. (1) Every one who wilfully attempts in any manner to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice in a judicial proceeding,
(a) by indemnifying or agreeing to indemnify a surety, in any way and either in whole or in part, or
(b) where he is a surety, by accepting or agreeing to accept a fee or any form of indemnity whether in whole or in part from or in respect of a person who is released or is to be released from custody,
is guilty of
(c) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or
(d) an offence punishable on summary conviction.
Public mischief occurs when a person causes a police officer to begin or to continue an investigation with the intention to mislead the police officer.
Someone can be accused of misleading an officer in the following ways:
(1) falsely accusing another person of committing a criminal offence,
(2) causing suspicion to be diverted from that person or causing another person to be suspected of having committed the criminal offence
(3) reporting that an offence has been committed when no offence has actually been committed
(4) causing the officer to believe a person has died when that person has not died.
It is also a crime to attempt commit public mischief in a case where the officer did not believe the person and did not commence an investigation or was not misled.
Section 140 of Criminal Code pertains to Public Mischief:
140 (1) Every one commits public mischief who, with intent to mislead, causes a peace officer to enter on or continue an investigation by
(a) making a false statement that accuses some other person of having committed an offence;
(b) doing anything intended to cause some other person to be suspected of having committed an offence that the other person has not committed, or to divert suspicion from himself;
(c) reporting that an offence has been committed when it has not been committed; or
(d) reporting or in any other way making it known or causing it to be made known that he or some other person has died when he or that other person has not died.
Marginal note: Punishment
(2) Every one who commits public mischief
(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or
(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
If you have been charged with a criminal offence for lying to the police or court, or you are facing any other criminal offence charge please contact Kostman and Pyzer, Barristers for legal advice!
Criminal Defence Lawyer (B.A., L.L.B.)
Jonathan is a highly skilled and sought after criminal defence lawyer who represents clients charged with criminal offences all over the Province of Ontario. He is a member in good-standing with the Law Society of Upper Canada, Criminal Lawyers’ Association and Toronto Lawyers Association.