Posted on November 9, 2015

Perjury Laws & Defenses California Penal Code § 118 PC │ Los Angeles Perjury Defense Attorney

Contrary to popular belief, someone need not testify in court to commit the crime of perjury. Instead, allegations of perjury can occur if you testify untruthfully at a deposition or intentionally falsify a statement in an affidavit. Although rarely prosecuted, a perjury conviction can have devastating consequences and it’s characterized as a crime of moral turpitude affecting your immigration status or state license. Perjury is a straight felony and cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor. However, prosecuting someone for perjury can be more burdensome than most would expect. Moreover, the legal issue in nearly all perjury cases is whether you intentionally made a statement untruthfully. If you reasonably believed the statement you made under oath was the true, then you are not guilty of this crime. Usually, a detective or police officer will question you regarding your statement (affidavit or testimony) in an effort to help prove you willfully lied. If you elect to remain silent, then chances of proving you guilty becomes more challenging. Thus, in the event you’re being questioned for perjury, contact a Perjury Defense Attorney in Los Angeles right away. The more you speak to law enforcement, the more you limit your options in creating a defense.

The crime of perjury is formally defined under California Penal Code § 118(a) which provides, “Every person who, having taken an oath that he or she will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly before any competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any of the cases in which the oath may by law of the State of California be administered, willfully and contrary to the oath, states as true any material matter which he or she knows to be false, and every person who testifies, declares, deposes, or certifies under penalty of perjury in any of the cases in which the testimony, declarations, depositions, or certification is permitted by law of the State of California under penalty of perjury and willfully states as true any material matter which he or she knows to be false, is guilty of perjury.”

LEGAL DEFENSES

• You did not willfully or intentionally convey or state false information
• Your statement under oath was true and accurate
• You were never admonished with an oath under Penalty of Perjury
• The information you conveyed was not material
• You did not know that you were making a statement under oath

PUNISHMENT & SENTENCING

If convicted of perjury, you face a sentencing range of 2, 3, or 4 years in county jail. If the court grants probation, then you will normally be placed on 3 years of supervised probation and must complete counseling, community service, and pay court fines. However, a perjury conviction can be more severe in the event you perjure your testimony in a capital murder case procuring the conviction and execution of any innocent person. In that instance you could also face the death penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

PERJURY EXPUNGEMENT

If you suffer from a perjury conviction, then you may be eligible to expunge your conviction pursuant to Penal Code § 1203.4. You must fulfill certain conditions to deem your eligibility for this remedy. For instance, your conviction cannot have resulted in you spending time in state prison. Additionally, your probation period must be terminated, you completed all orders from the court, and there are no pending cases currently against you. If you’re deemed eligible and upon proper petition, the court will withdraw its finding of guilty, enter a not guilty plea, and dismiss the case under P.C. § 1203.4. From that moment forward, you will be released from all “penalties and disabilities” resulting from your conviction. For more information, contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers to discuss your expungement eligibility.

EXAMPLES

Dan lost his job as a construction worker because business was slow. He filed for unemployment with the state of California. On the unemployment questionnaire contained a clause stating that you declare under penalty of perjury that you are not employed or making any form of income. Dan signed the document containing the clause and subsequently began getting government assisted money. The state of California instituted an investigation against Dan revealing that he works part-time as a restaurant server earning money under the table. Dan was arrested and charged with perjury. In this case, Dan would likely be charged with perjury, grand theft, and unemployment fraud. Because Dan signed the unemployment application acknowledging the oath clause, the prosecution will argue that Dan committed perjury after willfully failing to disclose that he works under the table making side money as a waiter.

Sarah was the victim of an assault and battery after walking home from a Los Angeles bar one evening. She was unable to identify the assailant but could describe his build and race. The police were subsequently able to make an arrest of Dan who admitted to the assault. Subsequently at trial, Sarah testified that she is 100% positive that Dan was the one who committed the assault against her because she observed his face. In reality, Sarah merely pointed and identified Dan because the detective told her that he admitted to the assault. In this case, Sarah would face perjury charges because she testified in court knowing that she could not identify Dan as the culprit and was merely relying on the detective’s representations. Additionally, Sarah’s testimony was material to the case because it served as evidence identifying the suspect.

CONTACT US

If you’ve been arrested, charged, or are under investigation for perjury under P.C. § 118, then contact Los Angeles Perjury Defense Lawyer John Rogers at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers. Call 877-888-9820 for a free confidential consultation concerning your rights and defenses. Mr. Rogers is available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.

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