Testifying could mean more prison time for Blagojevich

May 23, 2011

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(WBEZ/Robert Wildeboer)
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his wife Patti at court.

Attorneys are preparing to put on a defense later this week for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.  One of the big questions surrounding their defense is whether they'll put the former governor on the stand. But if Blagojevich takes the stand and fails to convince jurors that he's innocent, there's a chance his testimony could earn him more time in prison.

Former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer explains says that's because if he's convicted his testimony could be considered perjury. "You have the right to remain silent. You don't have to put on a case.  You don't have to do anything. But if you take the stand and you commit perjury, which one could say the jury found if they convicted you, then that is considered obstruction of justice, it's an enhancement to the sentencing in the federal guidelines," Cramer said.

Cramer says that could add a year or more to a sentence. He estimates that because of Blagojevich's first trial, the governor is already facing a year or two in prison on his conviction of lying to the FBI. He estimates that if Blagojevich is convicted on a few of the 20 counts in this retrial, he could be facing between seven and 10 years in prison.

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