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"Penalty of Perjury" - What does that exactly mean?
Thread poster: Sonja Tomaskovic
Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:14
English to German
+ ...
Apr 11, 2006

Hi,

one of my clients asked me to sign a Certificate of Accuracy. I understand that the wording "I hereby declare under penalty of perjury that..." is a standard expression in the US.

I would still like to know what exactly this kind of penalty can involve. The certificate itself does not contain any further clarification on this matter. I have already contacted the client for more details, in the meantime I'd be grateful if anyone with more experience in this field could shortly explain.

Thank you.

Sonja

[Edited at 2006-04-11 10:43]


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Kevin Kelly  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:14
Member (2005)
Russian to English
+ ...
Perjury is lying or making verifiably false statements under oath in a court of law. Apr 11, 2006

I am not a legal specialist, but it seems absurd for a client to even mention the word perjury in the context of a Statement of Accuracy. Such a provision would not be enforceable unless you are making a sworn statement to a judicial authority, at least in my humble (non-professional) opinion.

I've happily signed statements that "to the best of my knowledge this translation is complete and accurate...' or words to that effect. It would be pretty difficult to prove that I knew the translation was inaccurate, but submitted it anyway. And perjury has nothing to do with it.

My two cents...


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Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:14
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Perjury Apr 11, 2006


I am not a legal specialist, but it seems absurd for a client to even mention the word perjury in the context of a Statement of Accuracy. Such a provision would not be enforceable unless you are making a sworn statement to a judicial authority, at least in my humble (non-professional) opinion.


Thank you for your opinion, Kevin.

The job I did for this client was a review of a tranlsation that had been carried out by an external translator, who does not usually work for them.

I have also signed various Statements of Accuracy, most of them contain some sort of explanation what happens if they still find my translation/review to contain errors.

The only thing that makes me hesitate here is this this one sentence.

Sonja


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Trevor Butcher
Local time: 10:14
English
common or not Apr 11, 2006

Hi Sonja,

In Britain it is common to see signs "trespassers will be prosecuted" even though you cannot prosecute trespassers. You may just be suffering from someone producing a contract using the phrases that they believe should be there. In that case no one will be able to give you an answer, and pressing for one may just embarass someone in the company.

Who knows, but I think you are doing the right thing by not ignoring it.

Trevor


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
Change it. Apr 11, 2006

Change it to: "to the best of my knowledge...".

That is the usual wording. Refuse to sign anything containing "perjury", it should not be applicable anyway, normally it appears to apply only to statements to authorities. Of course laws vary.


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Luis Arri Cibils  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:14
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
+ ...
US Law on Unsworn Declarations under Penalty of Perjury Apr 11, 2006

Perhaps the translation is to be used in certain legal proceedings (not necessarily before a court) in the US. If so, a notarized and sworn (notaries are authorized to take oaths) Certificate of Accuracy may be required. If the certificate is given overseas, an apostille will also be required. A cheaper and faster procedure, acceptable under US laws, is to use an “unsworn declaration under penalty of perjury”. I am copying below the applicable law (28 USC 1746).

Both procedures are equivalent and place on the translator/reviewer the same burden: to attest (under oath or penalty of perjury, same difference,) that the translation is true, correct and complete to the best of that person’s understanding. Penalties for perjury or for lying under oath (committed when the translated document is submitted to the corresponding authorities) are serious and may involve a jail term (ask Martha Stewart). And, yes, it would be enforceable against you. And, no, you can’t omit the statement “declare under penalty of perjury” if it is required because the translation is going to be used in legal proceedings.

I do not know, of course, whether this particular translation is going to be used in some legal proceedings. It is possible that the form you got just had it on it from a previous use.

TITLE 28 > PART V > CHAPTER 115 > § 1746Prev | Next
§ 1746. Unsworn declarations under penalty of perjury
Release date: 2005-09-29
Wherever, under any law of the United States or under any rule, regulation, order, or requirement made pursuant to law, any matter is required or permitted to be supported, evidenced, established, or proved by the sworn declaration, verification, certificate, statement, oath, or affidavit, in writing of the person making the same (other than a deposition, or an oath of office, or an oath required to be taken before a specified official other than a notary public), such matter may, with like force and effect, be supported, evidenced, established, or proved by the unsworn declaration, certificate, verification, or statement, in writing of such person which is subscribed by him, as true under penalty of perjury, and dated, in substantially the following form:
(1) If executed without the United States: “I declare (or certify, verify, or state) under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on (date). (Signature)”.
(2) If executed within the United States, its territories, possessions, or commonwealths: “I declare (or certify, verify, or state) under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on (date). (Signature)”.
http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode28/usc_sec_28_00001746----000-.html


[Edited at 2006-04-11 17:29]


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Richard Creech  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:14
French to English
+ ...
A Lawyer Weighs-in Apr 11, 2006

A certification that a statement has been made under penalty of perjury may, as a previous poster correctly stated, be required in some legal proceedings, so depending on the circumstances your translation may not be useable without it. You should not be overly anxious about this, however. As long as you are not knowingly submitting a false statement (in other words, lying), you will not be liable for perjury. Perjury cases are very difficult to prove. It is not enough to show that the person said something that was untrue; it must be demonstrated that he knew it was untrue, which can be very hard to do.

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Richard Creech  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:14
French to English
+ ...
Strange Statement Apr 11, 2006

Trevor Butcher wrote:

In Britain it is common to see signs "trespassers will be prosecuted" even though you cannot prosecute trespassers.

Trevor


Why do you think that trespassers cannot be prosecuted in Britain? It is a crime as well as a tort (civil wrong) under English law, and I expect it is under Scottish law as well (and also in Northern Ireland, the part of the UK that is not in "Britain").


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Margaret Marks
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:14
German to English
The trespassers can't usually be prosecuted. Apr 11, 2006

Richard Creech wrote:

Trevor Butcher wrote:

In Britain it is common to see signs "trespassers will be prosecuted" even though you cannot prosecute trespassers.

Trevor


Why do you think that trespassers cannot be prosecuted in Britain? It is a crime as well as a tort (civil wrong) under English law, and I expect it is under Scottish law as well (and also in Northern Ireland, the part of the UK that is not in "Britain").


Criminal trespass is a fairly new offence in England and Wales, and presumably the rest of the UK too, and in the circumstances where this sign 'Trespassers will be prosecuted' are usually seen - especially beside railway lines - there is usually no question of criminal trespass being involved, but it's a tort.

How about the sign that shoplifters will be prosecuted? That's OK in England, because private prosecutions are possible, so if the CPS doesn't want to prosecute, the shop-owner still can. Presumably in the USA it's not possible to be certain a prosecution will take place.

Margaret


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Margaret Marks
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:14
German to English
Penalty is not really a penalty Apr 11, 2006

Sonja Tomaskovic wrote:

I would still like to know what exactly this kind of penalty can involve.
Sonja

[Edited at 2006-04-11 10:43]


Hi Sonja - you've probably had enough answers, but I would just like to add that 'under penalty of' means 'at the risk of being liable for'.

Of course, the risk you run is criminal prosecution, which is highly unlikely.

Margaret Marks


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Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:14
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Apr 12, 2006

Thank you all for your comments on this.

Indeed, the wording of the whole Certificate is somewhat strange. It contains the usual "to the best of my knowledge" plus "penalty of perjury".

My client (who, in turn, received the wording from their client) says that they probably have a standard wording for all their certificates, and most probably someone in the office copied this one from another document.

The document I proofread does not seem to be court-related in any way.

I don't think there should be any problems. After all, I performed the job to the best of my knowledge.

Thanks,

Sonja


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Anne Gillard-Groddeck  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:14
German to English
Agree with Margaret Apr 12, 2006

Criminal trespass is an offence under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. The offence is in relation to "designated sites" to be defined by the Secretary of State. Section 128 sets out when the Secretary of State may define a site as designated:
When the site is comprised in Crown land (s. 128(3)(a))
When the land belongs to HM or to her immediate Heir in a private capacity (s. 128(3)(b))
When Sec. of St. considers it appropriate to so designate a site in the interests of NATIONAL SECURITY (s. 128(3)(c))

Section 128(3)(c) therefore gives the SS a certain amount of latitude, but within limits, i.e. there must be a national security interest at play.

SS. cannot just suddenly decide that Diligent Digger's vegetable plot is a designated site and make it a criminal offence for Nosy Nancy to enter it

Nevertheless there are still a number of human rights issues that were raised when the Bill was going through Parliament (e.g. by Liberty).

I should think that most law students are taught that the wording "trespassers will be prosecuted" (rather than sued) is legally incorrect and this holds good, as the specific offence is "criminal trespass" (which also existed in certain cases prior to the SOCPA 2005).


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