2005 Regular Session
To: Judiciary, Division B
By: Senator(s) Thomas
AN ACT TO CREATE THE CRIME OF FALSIFICATION IN OFFICIAL MATTERS; TO ENACT DEFINITIONS; TO CREATE THE CRIME OF PERJURY IN AN OFFICIAL PROCEEDING; TO CREATE THE CRIME OF FALSE SWEARING IN OFFICIAL MATTERS; TO CREATE THE CRIME OF UNSWORN FALSIFICATION TO AUTHORITIES; TO CREATE THE CRIME OF TAMPERING WITH OR FABRICATING PHYSICAL EVIDENCE; TO CREATE THE CRIME OF TAMPERING WITH PUBLIC RECORDS OR INFORMATION; TO CREATE THE CRIME OF IMPERSONATING A PUBLIC SERVANT; TO ENACT RESTRICTIONS UPON DEFENSES TO A CHARGE UNDER THIS ACT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) In this act, unless a different meaning plainly is required:
(a) "Benefit" means gain or advantage, or anything regarded by the beneficiary as gain or advantage, including benefit to any other person or entity in whose welfare he is interested, but not an advantage promised generally to a group or class of voters as a consequence of public measures which a candidate engages to support or oppose;
(b) "Pecuniary benefit" is benefit in the form of money, property, commercial interests or anything else the primary significance of which is economic gain;
(c) "Government" includes any branch, subdivision or agency of the government of the state or any locality within it;
(d) "Official proceeding" means a proceeding heard or which may be heard before any legislative, judicial, administrative or other governmental agency or official authorized to take evidence under oath, including any referee, hearing examiner, commissioner, notary or other person taking testimony or deposition in connection with any such proceeding;
(e) "Public servant" means any officer or employee of government, including legislators and judges, and any person participating as juror, advisor, consultant or otherwise, in performing a governmental function; but the term does not include witnesses;
(f) "Statement" means any representation, but includes a representation of opinion, belief or other state of mind only if the representation clearly relates to state of mind apart from or in addition to any facts which are the subject of the representation.
(2) (a) A person is guilty of perjury if in any official proceeding he makes a false statement under oath or equivalent affirmation, or swears or affirms the truth of a statement previously made, when the statement is material and he does not believe it to be true.
(b) Falsification is material, regardless of the admissibility of the statement under rules of evidence, if it could have affected the course or outcome of the proceeding. It is no defense that the declarant mistakenly believed the falsification to be immaterial. Whether a falsification is material in a given factual situation is a question of law.
(c) Violation of this subsection (2) is a felony punishable by commitment to the custody of the Department of Corrections for a period not to exceed three (3) years.
(3) (a) A person who makes a false statement under oath or equivalent affirmation, or swears or affirms the truth of such a statement previously made, when he does not believe the statement to be true, is guilty of a misdemeanor if:
(i) The falsification occurs in an official proceeding; or
(ii) The falsification is intended to mislead a public servant in performing his official function.
(b) A person who makes a false statement under oath or equivalent affirmation, or swears or affirms the truth of such a statement previously made, when he does not believe the statement to be true, is guilty of a misdemeanor if the statement is one which is required by law to be sworn or affirmed before a notary or other person authorized to administer oaths.
(c) Violation of this subsection (3) is a misdemeanor punishable by confinement for a period not to exceed one (1) year.
(4) (a) A person commits a misdemeanor if, with purpose to mislead a public servant in performing his official function, he:
(i) Makes any written false statement which he does not believe to be true; or
(ii) Purposely creates a false impression in a written application for any pecuniary or other benefit, by omitting information necessary to prevent statements therein from being misleading; or
(iii) Submits or invites reliance on any writing which he knows to be forged, altered or otherwise lacking in authenticity; or
(iv) Submits or invites reliance on any sample, specimen, map, boundary-mark or other object which he knows to be false.
(b) A person commits a misdemeanor if he makes a written false statement which he does not believe to be true, on or pursuant to a form bearing notice, authorized by law, to the effect that false statements made therein are punishable.
(c) Violation of this subsection (4) is a misdemeanor punishable by confinement for a period not to exceed six (6) months.
(5) A person commits a misdemeanor if, believing that an official proceeding or investigation is pending or about to be instituted, he:
(a) (i) Alters, destroys, conceals or removes any record, document or thing with purpose to impair its verity or availability in such proceeding or investigation; or
(ii) Makes, presents or uses any record, document or thing knowing it to be false and with purpose to mislead a public servant who is or may be engaged in such proceeding or investigation.
(b) Violation of this subsection (5) is a misdemeanor punishable by confinement for a period not to exceed one (1) year.
(6) (a) A person commits an offense if he:
(i) Knowingly makes a false entry in, or false alteration of, any record, document or thing belonging to, or received or kept by, the government for information or record, or required by law to be kept by others for information of the government; or
(ii) Makes, presents or uses any record, document or thing knowing it to be false, and with purpose that it be taken as a genuine part of information or records referred to in subparagraph (i); or
(iii) Purposely and unlawfully destroys, conceals, removes or otherwise impairs the verity or availability of any such record, document or thing.
(b) An offense under this subsection (6) is a misdemeanor unless the actor's purpose is to defraud or injure anyone, in which case the offense is a felony punishable by commitment to the custody of the Department of Corrections for a period not to exceed two (2) years.
(7) A person commits a misdemeanor if he falsely pretends to hold a position in the public service with purpose to induce another to submit to such pretended official authority or otherwise to act in reliance upon that pretense to his prejudice.
(8) (a) It is not a defense to prosecution under this section that the oath or affirmation was administered or taken in an irregular manner or that the declarant was not competent to make the statement. A document purporting to be made upon oath or affirmation at any time when the actor presents it as being so verified shall be deemed to have been duly sworn or affirmed.
(b) No person shall be guilty of an offense under this section if he retracted the falsification in the course of the proceeding in which it was made before it became manifest that the falsification was or would be exposed and before the falsification substantially affected the proceeding.
(c) Where the defendant made inconsistent statements under oath or equivalent affirmation, both having been made within the period of the statute of limitations, the prosecution may proceed by setting forth the inconsistent statements in a single count alleging in the alternative that one or the other was false and not believed by the defendant. In such case it shall not be necessary for the prosecution to prove which statement was false but only that one or the other was false and not believed by the defendant to be true.
(d) No person shall be convicted of an offense under this section where proof of falsity rests solely upon contradiction by testimony of a single person other than the defendant.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2005.