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A famous murder case and a surprise perjury charge

A year to the day after a jury acquitted O.J. Simpson of murder, Mark Fuhrman, who figured prominently as a detective in the case, was back in court on a charge of perjury.

The charge stemmed from testimony he gave at the Simpson trial and illustrates the consequences of lying under oath.

About false statements

People make false statements every day. Without meaning to, someone may make an incorrect statement on a loan application or their income tax return. Even in a courtroom, a witness may not recall events accurately because of blank spots in his or her memory. As a result, the witness may stand accused of lying.

Mark Fuhrman and the charge of perjury

During the Simpson murder trial in 1995, Mark Fuhrman testified under oath that he had not used a racial slur in a decade, but four witnesses for the defense said otherwise. Did his memory fail him? A California judge did not think so. One of the four defense witnesses, an aspiring screenwriter, had tapes of Fuhrman made during work on a screenplay. The tapes show that he used racial slurs on at least 41 occasions. Fuhrman subsequently entered a plea deal with the office of the state attorney general. He received three years’ probation and a minimum restitution fine. Although a plea of no contest is not an admission of guilt, taking the plea meant that he could no longer work in California law enforcement, and his career as a detective came to an end.

Looking ahead

Lying or withholding information under oath is a serious matter, and so are the penalties. However, keep in mind that if you are the defendant accused of perjury, the prosecuting attorney must prove you willingly or knowingly lied or omitted information. An aggressive defense helps protect your rights and leads to the best outcome possible for your case. You may not be as well-known a person as Mark Fuhrman, but your circumstances are no less important.

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