The crime of perjury in the legislation of the Republic of Croatia

Keywords: perjury, evidence, crimes against the justice system, false testimony, defendant, witness


Objective: The paper aims to provide a description and analysis of perjury in the legislation of the Republic of Croatia, the standpoints of legal theory, and perjury charges and prosecution in practice.

Methods: This paper presents an analysis of legal provisions concerning the crime of perjury in Croatia, statistical data on perjury charges and conviction rates, perspectives of other authors, and relevant judicial practice.

Results: The legislator has established criminal liability for perjury on the part of any witness, expert, translator, or interpreter who provides false testimony in a procedure. On the other hand, parties other than the defendant are liable for perjury if the final decision in the procedure was based on their false testimony. Legal theory and judicial practice agree that the crime is committed as soon as the person has finished testifying, that a prescribed format should be observed when testifying, that perjury may also be committed by withholding a decisive fact, as well as that in general, a retrial of a proceeding in which the perjury allegedly occurred is permissible only if based on a final judgment against the perjurer. An exceedingly large percentage of suspended sentences may fail to advance either general or specific deterrence. Regarding the contentious issue of necessary conditions for initiating perjury proceedings, the author argues that the conditions are met immediately upon providing false testimony.

Conclusion: The legislator has criminalized perjury because providing false testimony constitutes a willful and intentional obstruction of the process of proving facts in issue in proceedings before competent authorities. The judicial sentencing policy is not consistent regarding the application of prescribed punishment. By stipulating criminal liability of a party only if their testimony was instrumental for the judgment, the party unjustifiably enjoys a more favorable position in relation to witnesses, experts, interpreters, and translators.

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