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Perjury, also known as forswearing, is the willful act of swearing a false oath or of falsifying an affirmation to tell the truth, whether spoken or in writing, concerning matters material to a judicial proceeding. That is, the witness falsely promises to tell the truth about matters which affect the outcome of the case. For example, it is not considered perjury to lie about one's age unless age is a factor in determining the legal result, such as eligibility for old age retirement benefits. Perjury is considered a serious offense as it can be used to usurp the power of the courts, resulting in miscarriages of justice. In the United States, for example, the general perjury statute under Federal law classifies perjury as a felony and provides for a prison sentence of up to five years. On the other hand, the California Penal Code allows for perjury to be a capital offense in cases causing wrongful execution. However prosecutions for perjury are rare. In some countries such as France and Italy, suspects cannot be heard under oath or affirmation and thus cannot commit perjury, regardless of what they say during their trial. The rules for perjury also apply when a person has made a statement under penalty of perjury, even if the person has not been sworn or affirmed as a witness before an appropriate official. An example of this is the United States' income tax return, which, by law, must be signed as true and correct under penalty of perjury. Federal tax law provides criminal penalties of up to three years in prison for violation of the tax return perjury statute. See: 26 U.S.C. § 7206 (via Freebase)