To convict someone of perjury, I would think it must be proved that in a statement under oath either

  • they knowingly said something untruthful, or
  • they knowingly told less than the whole truth, or
  • both.

What percent of convictions for perjury fall into each of those three groups?

  • 1
    There's also saying something that one does not have a good faith belief is true (one does not need to know what one is saying is false to be charged with perjury). Commented May 9, 2021 at 5:06

1 Answer 1


Since 1973 100% of perjury convictions in the are for the first category. The "whole truth" requirement is gone, following Bronston v. United States, 409 U.S. 352. If you say something that is literally untrue, you can be convicted of perjury. Hence "there is no sex" is a literally truthful and non-perjurous statement, even when the question was about sex in the past. The attorney pursuing a line of questioning is expected to pay attention to what a person says, and detect whether they only answered part of the question.

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    That seems definitive at the federal level, but it doesn't necessarily preclude a state court finding differently, I think.
    – D M
    Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 19:50
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    @DM not to mention other countries besides the US, since the question does not specify any jurisdiction whatsoever.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 20:39
  • @user6726: The "there is no sex" does remind me of Bill Clinton's famous utterance. Legally speaking, the statement "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" was not a lie... at the time, D.C. law did not count the specific act Bill did as a sexual act. However, the court of public opinion still laughs at him for that statement to this day.
    – hszmv
    Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 17:08
  • This answer seems to be correct in the US. But the questioning did not specify any jurisdiction. Commented May 8, 2021 at 17:12
  • @hszmv My understanding is that the lawyer questioning him gave him a definition of "sex" that did not include any of his acts, not that DC law didn't include it. And if the question "Did you have sex with her?" is interpreted as "Did any of your acts fall under the legal definition of sex?", that could be considered to be calling for a conclusion. Commented May 9, 2021 at 5:05

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