A person applies for a job at the XYZ company. The XYZ company is a private company. As part of applying he fills out an application and signs it under penalty of perjury. The application has several lies in it. Can he be criminal prosecuted for perjury? If his signature had been notarized after he signed it, would that effect the answer?

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    It depends on the lies in question. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/perjury
    – Joe W
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 1:11
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    What part of the application are you asking about? There are some parts of job applications where a penalty of perjury can (and often must) apply, such as tax forms, verification of authorization to work in the United States, or, in the case of jobs requiring a security clearance, the application for the security clearance. Lying about your experience on an application to a private company isn't perjury in most cases, though. Just putting the words "under penalty of perjury" on the application doesn't mean it actually is. That would have to be backed up by a law making it perjury.
    – reirab
    Commented May 27, 2023 at 21:38
  • This seems like a slightly more specific duplicate of Is a lie + "under penalty of perjury" enough to be perjury?. Commented May 28, 2023 at 17:18
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    Does this answer your question? Is a lie + "under penalty of perjury" enough to be perjury?
    – James K
    Commented Jun 1, 2023 at 20:32

4 Answers 4


A "penalty of perjury" statement includes not just the warning about penalty of perjury, the person signing avows that the statements are true to the best of their knowledge. If you lie on such a statement, and if the "penalty of perjury" statement is legally allowed (typically, mandated), then the person can be prosecuted. However, XYZ cannot arbitrarily inject the risk of perjury, that requires some legal authorization. An example would be if XYZ is employing the person under a Defense Department contract that requires a sworn statement. The federal perjury statute characterises this as being when "a law of the United States authorizes an oath to be administered". The only effect of notarization is that it decreases the probability that the person could effectively argue "I never even signed this statement, that's a forgery".

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    I was thinking that the XYZ company just had the statement put in to discourage applicants from lying. That is, there is no government requirement that the application be signed uner penalty of perjury. Perhaps it was added on the whim of a CEO who does not have a legal background.
    – Bob
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 1:51
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    In terms of terminology a statement made under penalty of perjury without a notarization is called a "declaration" while a statement made under penalty of perjury before a notary who has administered (or is supposed to have administered) an oath that signing it means it is true is called an "affidavit." A notarization of something that isn't inherently true or false confirming that you personally signed something to authorize it is called an "acknowledgement".
    – ohwilleke
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 2:31
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    The important point about notarization is that the notary has no responsibility regarding the facts on the statement, they're only responsible for confirming that the signature belongs to the person who signed it.
    – Barmar
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 13:50
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    @Bob, if an employer put a statement in a contract about "perjury" without any legal standing behind it, that would be a red flag to not sign the document. They obviously haven't had legal counsel look at it, or, if they did, they ignored the advice of legal counsel which means they are likely to ignore legal counsel in other areas as well as advice in pretty much any other matter. This spells pure danger to anyone working for them. TLDR: run, don't walk, away from this. Commented May 26, 2023 at 17:56
  • "A declaration under penalty of perjury typically follows such language: “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.”" - aw hell naw. Make myself liable for something you said and not something I typed? A signed affidavit? No. Never. Not unless you're going to pay me $200k a year.
    – Mazura
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 22:08

It won't be perjury, but (with or without the "under penalty of perjury" phrase) it will be fraud.

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    This would likely be true in most (if not all) states in the USA, too. Commented May 26, 2023 at 17:57
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    @computercarguy: In the USA, it may also depend on whether the statement is material.
    – Brian
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 18:48
  • Such fraud, in the UK, can lead to a prison sentence. Commented May 27, 2023 at 8:58


Perjury is making a false statement in connection with a judicial proceeding.

You could be asked to sign a Statutory Declaration

Anyone can ask you to sign one of those although it will usually be a state one rather than the Federal one linked to.

Lying on one of those is a criminal offence that carries serious gaol time.

Of course, lying on a job application is technically fraud

Whether you get prosecuted depends on how big the lie is. Run of the mill padding is unlikely to get you in trouble. Saying you’re a surgeon when you aren’t likely will (it has happened).

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    In April, Australia introduced a bill restricting medical practioners from calling themselves surgeons: legislation.qld.gov.au/view/html/bill.first/bill-2023-008 . In the near future, surgeon may become a protected title.
    – Brian
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 18:46
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    @Brian Australia hasn’t, Queensland has. QLD has had real a problem in their public hospital system of giving jobs to unqualified people. So, instead of providing adequate resources and training to their staff to prevent it, they’re just going to criminalise it. Its cheaper and it wont work.
    – Dale M
    Commented May 27, 2023 at 23:14

In Engilsh law, the term 'Perjury' holds a very specific meaning, to wit lying in a legal proceeding where you are under oath to tell the truth.

Perjury Act (1911)

If any person lawfully sworn as a witness or as an interpreter in a judicial proceeding wilfully makes a statement material in that proceeding, which he knows to be false or does not believe to be true, he shall be guilty of perjury


The expression “judicial proceeding” includes a proceeding before any court, tribunal, or person having by law power to hear, receive, and examine evidence on oath.

So no, your actions do not meet the legal requirement for perjury unless your individual has been lawfully sworn as a witness.


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