Perjury Laws– FAQ’s (Penal Code Sections 118 through 131)
1. What exactly is perjury?
Perjury is the crime of lying under oath. When you swear to tell the truth in your court testimony or at deposition, or in your official capacity as an elected official and you intentionally make a false statement, you have committed perjury.
Perjury laws also apply when you make a written statement containing false information and are required to sign the document “under penalty of perjury.”
2. What is suborning perjury?
Suborning perjury means persuading someone else, a witness in a trial for example, to lie under oath. Suborning perjury can also mean convincing someone to report false information on a legal document. Suborning perjury is just as serious of a crime as personally lying under oath.
3. Can I be convicted of perjury for making any false statement?
It depends. In order to constitute perjury, the false information you give must be a material fact or related to a material fact. This means that the information would tend to affect the outcome of the proceeding. Generally, a material fact is one of great importance and consequence.
If you make a false statement that isn’t material to the case, doing so is not likely to invite a perjury charge. However, honesty is always the best policy while you are under oath.
4. Does a police officer break any perjury laws if he or she files a false police report?
Yes. A peace officer commits perjury when he or she intentionally makes any material statement in a police report regarding suspected criminal activity, knowing the information is false and then filing the false report with his or her employment agency. If discovered, the officer is subject to prosecution for either a misdemeanor or a felony.
5. What happens if I made a mistake during my sworn testimony?
A mistake of fact may be a legal defense to a charge of perjury. Sometimes, people make mistakes even while under oath. The issue is not so much whether you made a false statement; it is whether you did so knowingly and intentionally.
If you honestly believed at the time that what you said or swore to was the truth, even though later on it is discovered not to be true, you may not be guilty of committing perjury.
6. Can I be sent to jail for committing perjury?
Yes. In California, if you are convicted of committing or suborning perjury, you face a fine
and/or up to four years in jail. If you are placed on probation, the judge may or may not
impose a condition that you serve up to one year in jail.
A law enforcement officer convicted of committing perjury faces either up to one year in jail or up to three years in prison, depending on whether he or she is charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.
Speak to a California Criminal Defense Attorney at Wallin & Klarich about Your Case
Being charged with perjury is a serious matter. If you are convicted of this crime, you risk serious damage to your credibility in addition to imprisonment and fines. You should speak with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today if you are facing perjury allegations.
Committing or suborning perjury is a serious offense carrying serious consequences, including imprisonment and heavy fines. Additionally, you risk potentially losing your professional license, your right to bear a firearm and you could be deported out of the country if you are not a U.S. citizen.
Wallin & Klarich has offices conveniently located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville. Our attorneys are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to make certain all of your rights are protected and that you receive unparalleled legal representation throughout every step of your criminal case.
We may be able to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed altogether. We will also fight to help you avoid serving time in either jail or prison. We will do all within our power to help you obtain the best result possible 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.