City Commission Meeting Results in Perjury Charges

October 2, 2022 Criminal Defense, News & Announcements

 Lying is never a good idea. In some cases, lying can lead to criminal charges. Perjury is when a person lies under oath in an official or unofficial proceeding. A recent case in Florida covers an incident of perjury and the resulting charges.

We will cover the details of the case and information on perjury in Florida.

What Happened?

During a City Commission meeting in Delray Beach in August, Neil Carson stood and spoke in favor of a new plan for an apartment building. During his three-minute speech, Carson claimed that he was the president of the homeowners association (HOA) in the area.

Carson continued to praise the upcoming plan for the apartment. “Everyone is really in favor of what’s happening in the area,” he said during the meeting. “And this project we feel will just add to the beautification of the area. We are really in favor of this project.”

However, it was later found out that Carson was not the president of the HOA but is instead a construction executive for Kaufman Lynn. The company has worked on numerous housing developments in the city.

The city received a letter from one of the HOA’s attorneys, which said that Carson was lying about being the president and that he is not even on the board of directors.

During a City Commission meeting, any speaker is sworn in under oath by the city clerk before they can say anything. That is because this type of meeting is considered a quasi-judicial hearing.

After receiving the letter, the city contacted the Delray Beach Police. After investigating the details, the authorities arrested Carson on Sunday. He was charged with felony perjury.


The city’s manager addressed the situation, claiming that there was no choice but to press charges. “Once a felony event is brought to light, we really didn’t have much choice other than to respond accordingly,” said City Manager Terrence Moore.

Moore went on to say that it is “extremely important” for people to speak truthfully when standing during a meeting since it is under oath. “Honesty is extremely paramount and utmost in case of deliberations,” he said.  

However, city officials and government experts were shocked about the arrest, and the penalties for lying during a public meeting. Eugene Steinfeld, a former Margate city attorney said she has, “never heard of [anything like it]. No one has ever been as blatant [about it] that I’m aware of, and I was a city attorney for 38 years.”

Perjury Charges in Florida

When speaking during a legal proceeding or in a courtroom, it is of high importance to always speak truthfully. If an individual makes false statements on the stand, it is considered “perjury.”

Florida Statute Sections 837.012 and 837.02 explain that, in order to convict a person for perjury, the following elements need to be proven:

  • The defendant took an oath to speak the truth under law during an official or unofficial proceeding.
  • The oath of truth was given to the person who administered the oath in their official capacity.
  • The defendant gave an untruthful statement outlined the charging document.
  • The defendant gave the untruthful statement with the knowledge that it was not true.

Per Chapter 837 of the Florida Statutes, the defendant does not need to possess knowledge of the materiality of the statement. Likewise, a mistaken belief that their statement was immaterial is not a defense to a perjury charge.

Perjury Penalties

A violation of the perjury statute can vary depending on whether the false statement was given during an unofficial, official, or capital prosecution proceeding.

Perjury in an Official Proceeding

This offense is classified as a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years of prison, 5 years of probation, and a fine of up t $5,000.

Perjury in a Capital Proceeding

This offense is classified as a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Perjury Committed in a Nonofficial Proceeding

This offense is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail, 1 year of probation, and a fine of up to $1,000.

Perjury by Giving Contradictory Statements

This offense is classified as a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. The offense can be enhanced to a second-degree felony if the proceedings concerned a capital felony. In that case, the offense is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and a fine of up to $10,000.

Defenses to a Perjury Charge

One defense that can be used in a perjury case in Florida is recantation. That means the individual who gave the false statement admitted that the statement was false in the same proceeding, and:

  • The false statement did not have a substantial effect on the proceeding, or
  • The admission was made before it has become manifest that the false statement has or will be exposed.

To find out more about perjury charges, read our informative page here.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Getting accused of a crime can be very stressful, which is why it’s extremely important to work with an experienced defense attorney. An attorney can help you navigate the legal world while strategizing a strong defense. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have experience representing clients across the state for various criminal charges. Call us for a free consultation today at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website.

Written by Karissa Key

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