California perjury laws were put in place to ensure that individuals testifying in court were compelled to provide only truthful facts, or risk prosecution. Whether you are testifying in court during a civil or criminal proceeding or filling out a job application that asks you to sign “under penalty of perjury,” it is expected you will provide information that is true and correct, and any attempt to deliberately provide false information under circumstances such as these can result in perjury charges under California Penal Code § 118 PC. If you or a loved one has been arrested for perjury in Los Angeles, do not wait until you have been formally charged. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and begin building a strong defense in your case. Our legal team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles has extensive experience defending clients against California perjury and subornation of perjury charges and may be able to get your criminal charges reduced to a lesser offense or dismissed altogether.
Affordable Perjury Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
The crime of perjury is taken very seriously in the state of California and the penalties resulting from a perjury conviction typically include significant fines and incarceration. Although it may seem relatively easy to avoid committing perjury when testifying in court, some prosecutors in criminal proceedings may intentionally set up witnesses for the other side to commit perjury, knowing that they would lie, if it benefits their case. Unfortunately, regardless of the severity of your perjury conviction, the offense is always prosecuted as a felony, and having a felony conviction on your record can have lifelong consequences, possibly preventing you from finding quality housing or getting a good job. The most important thing to do when facing California perjury charges is to hire a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who specializes in perjury defense. It is the main priority of our defense team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles to get the best possible resolution to your criminal charges, and we will investigate every aspect of your perjury case to ensure that we develop and assert the strongest possible defense on your behalf.
Perjury is the legal term for deliberately giving false information while under oath, a crime that is covered under California Penal Code § 118 PC. You could face charges of perjury in Los Angeles if you intentionally give false information in any of the following situations:
- When being deposed
- When testifying in court
- In a signed declaration
- In a signed certificate
- In a driver’s license application at the DMV
- In a signed affidavit
Some examples of California perjury under Penal Code § 118 PC would be testifying to your opinion during a trial if you didn’t believe in the opinion you were testifying about, or intentionally providing false information on a tax return or report that requires an oath, regardless of whether the oath was actually taken. It is important to note that you must actually convey a false statement, either verbally or in writing, to another person with the intent that the statement be taken as the truth, in order for the crime of perjury to apply. If you say or write something intended only for yourself, the act cannot be charged as perjury.
In addition to the act of perjury, the state of California recognizes another type of perjury – willfully convincing or persuading another person to knowingly give false information while under oath. This crime is known as subornation of perjury under Penal Code § 127 PC, and the law states that if you are successful in convincing another person to commit perjury, you can be charged along with the actual perjurer. An example of suborning perjury would be if a neighbor witnesses a man hitting his wife and the neighbor is subpoenaed by the prosecution to be a witness at the man’s trial for corporal injury on a spouse (Penal Code § 273.5 PC). If the man convinces the neighbor to lie on the witness stand, the neighbor could be charged with perjury (Penal Code § 118 PC) and the man himself could be charged with suborning perjury (Penal Code § 127 PC). If, however, the man tried to convince the neighbor to commit perjury and the neighbor told the truth instead, the man could only be charged with solicitation of a crime (Penal Code § 653(f) PC).
Conviction for Perjury Penal Code § 118
Being accused of or charged with perjury can be scary and stressful, but just because you are facing California perjury charges does not mean you will be convicted of the crime. The burden of proof in these types of criminal cases lies with the prosecution, which means the prosecutor assigned to your case is faced with the task of establishing each element of the crime in order to get a perjury conviction. Before you can be found guilty of perjury, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following factors:
- That you made a willful or deliberate statement;
- That you knew the statement was false;
- That you were under oath at the time you made the statement; and
- That the statement was (or related to) a “material” fact, meaning a fact of real importance or great consequence.
Penalties for a Perjury Conviction
Under California Penal Code § 118 PC, perjury is always a felony offense and if you are convicted of perjury in Los Angeles, the judge overseeing your criminal case can decide to sentence you to either felony probation with a sentence of up to one year in county jail, or two, three or four years in state prison, and up to $10,000 in fines, depending on the circumstances of the case. Some factors the California judge will take into consideration when deciding on sentencing in your perjury case include whether you have any prior convictions for criminal offenses and whether your perjury resulted in harm to another person, such as causing an innocent person to be wrongfully convicted of a crime. Depending on the circumstances of your perjury case, including if the case involves a false written document, you could also face additional criminal charges, possibly for forgery (Penal Code § 470 PC), petty theft (Penal Code § 484 and 488 PC), grand theft (Penal Code § 487) PC or tax fraud.
There are certain “aggravated” factors that can result in enhanced penalties for a perjury or subornation of perjury crime in Los Angeles. If, for example, you are convicted of California perjury or subornation of perjury that leads to another person being wrongfully convicted of a crime and executed, you will be charged with aggravated perjury, punishable by death or life in prison without the possibility of parole. Furthermore, if you are convicted of suborning perjury in Los Angeles, you will face the same prosecution and punishment as if you were the person who actually committed the perjury.
Defenses to Perjury Charges
The crime of perjury is aggressively prosecuted in California, but these cases are rarely completely straightforward. Perjury charges can be complicated and too often, innocent people are falsely accused of perjury and end up wrongfully convicted of the crime. Remember that any person accused of a crime in California has the right to hire an attorney and assert any argument that explains, excuses or justifies the alleged criminal behavior. If you have been arrested for or charged with perjury, a criminal defense attorney can present any of the following arguments on your behalf to defend you against these criminal charges:
- You misunderstood the question
- You were not technically under oath
- The false statement related to a minor issue, not a material fact
- The false statement was a mistake, not an intentional falsehood
- The prosecution’s evidence against you is insufficient
- You quickly recanted your statement
- You should be prosecuted under another statute
Hiring an Experienced Perjury Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
It is a common misconception that the only time you can commit perjury is when you are a witness testifying in court. There are a great number of other situations in which you can be charged with perjury for intentionally and knowingly lying under oath, including while making a statement in an affidavit, while testifying in a deposition, or even while applying for a driver’s license at the DMV. If you have been accused of perjury in Los Angeles, your first course of action should be to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to improve your chances of reaching a favorable conclusion to your case and potentially avoid a criminal conviction. Our reputable attorneys at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles will ensure that you understand the charges against you and defend your rights from the moment you are arrested to the conclusion of your case.