Consequences of Committing Perjury in San Bernardino (Penal Code Section 118)
Pursuant to Penal Code Section 118, you commit perjury in San Bernardino if you willfully and while under oath state as true any material matter which you know to be false. The law applies to every person who testifies, declares, deposes or certifies under penalty of perjury of the laws of the state of California.
The prosecution bears the burden of proving the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order to find you guilty of perjury:
- You made a deliberate or willful statement;
- You knew that the statement was false;
- You were under oath to tell the truth at the time you made the statement; and
- The statement was (or related to) a material fact.
Generally, a “material” fact is one of real significance or of great consequence, that either:
- Affects the outcome of the proceeding in which it was made, or
- Could probably influence the outcome of the proceedings for which it was made.
You can be prosecuted for committing perjury if you willfully give false information whenever you:
- Give testimony in court;
- Are being deposed;
- Sign an affidavit;
- Sign a declaration;
- Apply for a driver’s license; or
- Sign a certificate.
Even lying on a job application that you signed under penalty of perjury can get you into trouble. Generally, you are “under oath” whenever you orally or in writing “declare under penalty of perjury” that the information you have given is true and correct.
You can also be prosecuted for inducing another person to lie under oath. This is known as suborning perjury.
Sentencing and Punishment for Committing Perjury
Perjury and suborning perjury are felonies in California. If you are convicted pursuant to Penal Code Section 118, the judge has the option of sentencing you to either:
- Five years of formal probation, with or without a condition that you serve up to one year in jail; or
- A two, three or four-year jail term.
The judge’s discretion to grant or deny probation will rely on the recommendations of a probation officer’s report including:
- The facts of the case; and
- Your criminal history.
If probation is granted, execution of a jail term is suspended upon successful completion of your probation. However, if you are returned to custody for violating any of your probation conditions, your probation can be revoked and you can be sent to jail for one of the three terms listed above.
If you end up serving a jail term, you will likely be placed on a form of compulsory community supervision for up to three years upon your release from custody.
Other Consequences of a Perjury Conviction
A conviction for committing or suborning perjury is always a felony. Thus, in addition to a possible jail sentence, you also risk:
- Suspension or revocation of your professional license (e.g., doctors, teachers, attorneys);
- Loss of your right to possess or use a firearm or ammunition;
- Loss of your right to hold public office; and
- Deportation out of the country if you are not a U.S. citizen.
Recent Examples of Consequences of Perjury in San Bernardino
An ex-city councilman from San Bernardino County has learned the hard way that lying under oath can lead to serious consequences.
In October, Chas Kelly, then a 10-year veteran city councilman from the 5th ward in San Bernardino and the frontrunner to be elected mayor, pled guilty to one felony count of perjury. His indiscretion ended up costing him his political career.
Prosecutors say that from July 2006 to June 2012, Kelley took $74,222 in campaign contributions and used the money for personal expenses. They claim that he then filed repeated false campaign statements during that time to hide the money.1 Filing a false statement on the record is a form of perjury and a felony under California Penal Code Section 118.
Kelly was sentenced to 90 days in jail and five years of formal probation. If he violates the terms of his probation conditions, his suspended sentence can be imposed and he would face up to four years in jail.
Additionally, Kelly is barred from ever again holding public office.
Contact Wallin & Klarich if You are Facing Perjury Charges
If you or someone you know has been accused of committing perjury in San Bernardino County, you need to contact our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today. Hiring an attorney from Wallin & Klarich gives you the best possible chance to resolve your case so that you can avoid having to serve jail time, lose your professional license or potentially face deportation if you are a non-citizen.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 40 years of experience successfully representing our clients facing perjury charges. We will fight to protect all of your constitutional rights. We will aggressively defend you during every step of the process. We will employ every strategy available to help you obtain the best possible result in your case.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.
1. [San Bernardino Sun: “Ex-San Bernardino councilman Chas Kelley get five years’ probation, 90 days weekend jail time”; http://www.sbsun.com/general-news/20131220/former-san-bernardino-councilman-chas-kelley-gets-5-years-on-probation-90-days-jail-time]↩