Perjury

The harsh consequences of committing perjury are extremely serious and should not be ignored. Before attempting to face the charges alone, consider a criminal defense attorney who is familiar with this statute. 

Free Consultation (619)-233-4433

Defining PC section 118, Perjury

California defines perjury under PC 118, which states it is a crime to provide false information while under oath. Purposely lying during testimony in court, in civil depositions, or with statements in sworn affidavits and declarations also apply under this law.

Falsely submitting facts on one’s driver’s license applications or other official certificates is also included under this section.

The following are specific examples of committing perjury:

  • Lying by providing false information on one’s tax returns, statements, or reports which requires an oath (it doesn’t matter whether you took the oath or not).
  • As a notary public, you willingly authenticated a forged document under penalty of perjury.
  • You were driving while using your cellphone and hit another vehicle. During the deposition, you falsely claimed under oath that when you approached the other driver, they smelled strongly of alcohol.
  • Deliberately filing a materially false statement in a police report or other law enforcement agency reports.

What crimes are typically associated with perjury?

The statutes below are some of the most common offenses associated with PC 118, perjury.

California PC 470, Forgery;

Deliberately altering, making, or using a written document to commit fraud is illegal.         

Examples:

Altering another person’s living will without their knowledge or express permission.

Forging someone else’s signature on important paperwork like titles, deeds, or financial documents.

California PC 115, Filing false or forged documents;

Filing any false or forged legal documents with a government office within the state is a crime.

Example:

Fraudulently filing forged documents, like false information on a social security application or government subsidized student loans could lead to this charge. Consequences would most likely include steep fines in cases where money was given under false pretenses.

California PC 118.1, Filing a false police report;

You violate this crime if you make a false claim about a material fact and continue to file it in a police report.

Example:

A police officer was distracted with his computer console while driving and crashes into another vehicle. Instead of admitting his mistake, he files a false report stating the other car caused the accident. The other vehicle had a dash cam which clearly showed who crashed into who.

California PC 127, Subornation of perjury;

This law makes it a crime for you to willfully convince or persuade another person to commit perjury and that person does.

Example:

Your friend witnessed you assault someone. The assault resulted in the victim sustaining severe injuries and hospitalization. Your friend was planning on telling the truth until you persuaded them to commit perjury.

Related Statutes

California Vehicle Code 10501 VC, filing a false report of auto theft;

Filing a false report that one’s vehicle was stolen and doing so with the intention of deceiving either the insurance company or the authorities is considered a crime.

This crime is closely related to perjury because you filed false statements while technically under oath. If you are being charged with perjury for a vehicle-related crime, get advice from an attorney today. It could make things easier for you, as it means the difference between facing misdemeanor or felony penalties.  

California PC 136.1, Dissuading a witness or victim;

It’s a crime to deliberately and maliciously prevent and/or dissuade a victim or witness to a crime from attending or testifying in lawful proceedings, and/or reporting or cooperating with the authorities.

California PC 653f, Solicitation of a crime law;

This law is like subornation of perjury and dissuading a witness or victim, however, even if the attempt failed to work, a crime was still committed. Soliciting another person to commit a crime is punishable under PC 653f.

If you or someone you know would like more information on any of the aforementioned PCs, don’t hesitate to contact a trusted criminal defense attorney.

The Prosecution

A conviction for perjury means the prosecution was successfully able to prove all the elements of the crime took place. These elements are also referred to as facts of the case which are;

  • The defendant took an oath or made a statement to tell the truth while under penalty of perjury,
    • An oath is considered any method approved by the law to assert the truth of a statement.
  • They intentionally presented information knowing it was false,
  • That information is considered material to the case in question,
    • Material means any information that was likely to influence the results of the case.
  • They understood the statement they were making was not true while under oath or under penalty of perjury, and
  • At the time the false statement was made, the defendant had fully intended to provide erroneous testimony.

Furthermore, if the prosecution can prove any of these facts took place, they can successfully convict someone of perjury under PC 118.

  • If the information provided by the accused was in a certified form, a declaration, or a deposition,
  • They signed and delivered that information to another party, and
  • Intended this information be presented to the public as honest and true.

Who Can Be Charged?

The situations below illustrate who can be charged with committing perjury as outlined in PC 118.

Example 1:

Sammy witnessed a person in authority commit a crime and he came forward to testify. After taking the stand, he recanted his statements and claimed he could no longer remember what he had seen.

Now, for a case like this, there are several reasons Sammy would be lying after making multiple, honest depositions with police and prosecutors. He could be charged with perjury. On the other hand, if it was discovered that the defendant illegally persuaded Sammy to change his statement and Sammy was under threat to do so, he might not get charged with perjury. In the end, he will have to tell the truth in order to avoid serious perjury charges.

Example 2:

Vanessa got a speeding ticket for driving dangerously above the speed limit. The officer issued her the ticket and they parted ways. Instead of fessing up to her mistake, she chose to fight the ticket in front of the judge. She deceitfully stated the police officer harassed her for a date, when she refused, he issued her the ticket.

Fortunately, the officer involved had his camera on and the truth was revealed about the whole traffic encounter. Vanessa was charged with perjury for lying to the judge while under oath.

Example 3:

Stan was caught on audio committing a crime. During the trial, his best friend Tyler took the stand and falsely stated that it wasn’t Stan’s voice in the recording, it was his.

This was proven to be false and Tyler could get charged with perjury. Even if the case against Stan was not affected by Tyler’s testimony, it’s up to the judges’ discretion on how severe the penalties would be.

Legal Defenses

There are common defenses a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer might use to fight charges for PC 118, perjury. Here are some of the questions that could initially be asked in order to ascertain a defense.

Was it a mistake or a misunderstanding?

There are two defenses that fall under this answer, the mistake of fact and the accident defense. A mistake of fact means the defendant believed their statement to be true, even if their belief was mistaken or based on a lie.

Essentially, if the defendant gave false testimony based on a reasonable mistake of fact (and they did not honestly know it was based on a lie), then perjury was not committed. Instances where an individual unwittingly gave a dishonest statement while under oath might be considered as a valid accident defense.

Also, situations where a truthful statement was made, but the full truth was not revealed could be covered under these defenses. Something like this is also referred to as lying by omission. However, there are instances where, when under pressure, certain details can be forgotten. That said, one technically didn’t present partial truths if they accidentally forgot material facts. It also helps the accident defense when every statement previously provided was still true.

Are you the actual offender?

There are usually specific reasons why cases of mistaken identity have some validity against perjury charges. For instance, you live in the same county as someone else who has the same name and birthday. This person commits perjury in written form, and you get notified of the offense. You are obviously not culpable for the crime and a mistake was made in getting you involved at all.

PC 530.5, identity theft is another defense against perjury charges. It’s not that difficult for identity thieves to get ahold of your personal information. These days, you can simply go online and look up people’s names, addresses, phone numbers, and more.

Perjury can be committed in written form on documents like credit/loan applications, traffic tickets/reports, or other forms that have language such as, “I swear under penalty of perjury that the information provided here is true.” If one’s identity was stolen under these circumstances, you should not be held liable for any of the crimes this person does in your name.

Was it an attempt to correct a false statement?

In cases where someone tries to correct their alleged false statements right after making them often shows that they did not mean to give false testimony. Promptly recanting your statement in order to correct yourself shows you did not intend to lie and would not be guilty of committing perjury.

It’s important to remember, in order to be convicted of perjury, one must intentionally, willfully, or deliberately provide false, dishonest, or fraudulent testimony. When it comes to the above defenses, the intention to lie was absent, thus perjury was not committed as specifically defined under PC 118.

Is there enough evidence?

There are moments when someone else’s testimony can conflict with yours. However, another individual’s statement not coinciding with yours is insufficient and should not be enough for a perjury conviction.

Penalties

California does not give you an easy pass for committing perjury. In fact, perjury is considered a felony offense with strict consequences. It’s up to the judges' discretion on how severe the penalties are. They usually base it on:

  • whether your perjury was significant,
  • Did this act seriously harm another person, and
  • Your criminal history.

The punishments applied to your case are at the discretion of the judge. This means they also have the full authority to apply minimal or no jail time and can allow probation. However, if convicted of PC 118, perjury, the following could apply:

  • Felony (formal probation)
  • Up to one year in the county jail, and/or
  • 2, 3, or 4 years in a state penitentiary.

Enhanced Penalties

Getting convicted of perjury places a huge stain on one’s record. This crime is considered one of moral turpitude which would have negative repercussions on any future academic, professional, or business plans.

More discerning ramifications apply if your perjury causes another person to be convicted, imprisoned, and executed. You could face aggravated perjury charges which carry these punishments:

  • Life in a state penitentiary without the possibility of parole, or
  • A possible death sentence.

With all this in mind, it’s important not to forget further reparations outside of this specific offense. For instance, the victim may well be within their rights to pursue any punitive damages against a defendant. Especially in cases where they suffered any extreme physical harm, mental stress, or financial ruin. Suffice it to say, one could find themselves facing additional fines to cover any medical, financial, and/or legal expenses of the alleged victim(s).

Retaining a legal defense is one of the most recommended ways to fight against these accusations. Disregarding the severity of this offense or any related charges would be one of the biggest mistakes you could make. Don’t be afraid to get the defense lawyer you need to maintain control of your life.

Penalties for Similar and Related Offenses

California PC 470 , Forgery;

Misdemeanor;

As much as one thousand dollars in fines, and

Up to one year in the county jail.

Felony;

Fines of up to ten thousand dollars (more if the fraud resulted in a higher financial loss), and

Potentially 16 months, 2, or 3 years in state prison.

California PC 115 , Filing false or forged documents;

Felony;

Up to ten thousand dollars in fines, and/or

16 months, 2, or 3 years in state prison.

Additional Penalties;

Fines could double, triple, or worse depending on the type of document that was fraudulently filed.

California PC 118.1, Filing a false police report;

Misdemeanor;

Summary probation, and

Up to one year in the county jail.

Felony;

Formal probation, and

Up to one year in the county jail, OR

16 months, 2, or 3 years in a state prison.

California PC 127, Subornation of perjury;

Violating and being convicted of this offense carries the same punishments as if you had committed the act of perjury yourself.

Felony;

Formal probation,

Up to one year in the county jail, OR

2, 3, or 4-year state prison sentence.

California Vehicle Code 10501 VC, filing a false auto theft report;

Misdemeanor;

Summary (informal) probation;

Fines of up to one thousand dollars, and/or

Up to six months in the county jail.

You should not have to face perjury charges for a specific vehicle code offense. Especially when VC 10501 carries misdemeanor penalties whereas PC 118 is an automatic felony. That said, if this is a second offense under this specific vehicle code, you could face felony consequences.

2nd offense,

Misdemeanor;

The county jail sentence could double to up to one year.

Felony;

Fines of up to ten thousand dollars, and/or

16 months, 2, or 3 years in the county jail. 

California PC 136.1, Dissuading a witness or victim;

Misdemeanor;

Up to one thousand dollars in fines, and/or

Up to one year in county jail.

Felony;

Fines of up to ten thousand dollars, and

Between 16 months and 4 years in a state prison.

California PC 653f, Solicitation of a crime law;

Under this section, the punishment depends on the crime that was solicited. For instance, aggravated assault, sex crimes, and murder carry substantially different consequences than other offenses.

For the purposes of this article, soliciting another person to commit perjury or dissuading a witness or victim, and failing in that pursuit could result in being charged with PC 653f . Solicitation of a crime is a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If convicted, you face:

Misdemeanor;

Possible court fines of one thousand dollars or more, and/or

Up to one year in the county jail.

Felony;

Steeper fines of ten thousand dollars or more, and

16 months, 2, or 3-year county jail sentence.

Taking the Next Steps

California treats perjury as a crime of moral turpitude and penalizes it as a felonious act. It’s highly recommended you find a strong, criminal defense attorney who knows how to dispute this kind of allegation.

Located in San Diego, Los Angeles, or Orange County? Contact the Law Offices of Anna R. Yum for the legal expertise you need. She is also licensed to practice law in the state of Illinois. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Yum knows what it takes to combat these types of offenses.

For more details on your legal defense or for a free consultation call 619-233-4433.

The harsh consequences of committing perjury are extremely serious and should not be ignored. Before attempting to face the charges alone, consider a criminal defense attorney who is familiar with this statute. 

Defining PC section 118, Perjury

California defines perjury under PC 118, which states it is a crime to provide false information while under oath. Purposely lying during testimony in court, in civil depositions, or with statements in sworn affidavits and declarations also apply under this law.

Falsely submitting facts on one’s driver’s license applications or other official certificates is also included under this section.

The following are specific examples of committing perjury:

  • Lying by providing false information on one’s tax returns, statements, or reports which requires an oath (it doesn’t matter whether you took the oath or not).
  • As a notary public, you willingly authenticated a forged document under penalty of perjury.
  • You were driving while using your cellphone and hit another vehicle. During the deposition, you falsely claimed under oath that when you approached the other driver, they smelled strongly of alcohol.
  • Deliberately filing a materially false statement in a police report or other law enforcement agency reports.

What crimes are typically associated with perjury?

The statutes below are some of the most common offenses associated with PC 118, perjury.

California PC 470, Forgery;

Deliberately altering, making, or using a written document to commit fraud is illegal.

Examples:

Altering another person’s living will without their knowledge or express permission.

Forging someone else’s signature on important paperwork like titles, deeds, or financial documents.

California PC 115, Filing false or forged documents;

Filing any false or forged legal documents with a government office within the state is a crime.

Example:

Fraudulently filing forged documents, like false information on a social security application or government subsidized student loans could lead to this charge. Consequences would most likely include steep fines in cases where money was given under false pretenses.

California PC 118.1, Filing a false police report;

You violate this crime if you make a false claim about a material fact and continue to file it in a police report.

Example:

A police officer was distracted with his computer console while driving and crashes into another vehicle. Instead of admitting his mistake, he files a false report stating the other car caused the accident. The other vehicle had a dash cam which clearly showed who crashed into who.

California PC 127, Subornation of perjury;

This law makes it a crime for you to willfully convince or persuade another person to commit perjury and that person does.

Example:

Your friend witnessed you assault someone. The assault resulted in the victim sustaining severe injuries and hospitalization. Your friend was planning on telling the truth until you persuaded them to commit perjury.

Related Statutes

California Vehicle Code 10501 VC, filing a false report of auto theft;

Filing a false report that one’s vehicle was stolen and doing so with the intention of deceiving either the insurance company or the authorities is considered a crime.

This crime is closely related to perjury because you filed false statements while technically under oath. If you are being charged with perjury for a vehicle-related crime, get advice from an attorney today. It could make things easier for you, as it means the difference between facing misdemeanor or felony penalties.  

California PC 136.1, Dissuading a witness or victim;

It’s a crime to deliberately and maliciously prevent and/or dissuade a victim or witness to a crime from attending or testifying in lawful proceedings, and/or reporting or cooperating with the authorities.

California PC 653f, Solicitation of a crime law;

This law is like subornation of perjury and dissuading a witness or victim, however, even if the attempt failed to work, a crime was still committed. Soliciting another person to commit a crime is punishable under PC 653f.

If you or someone you know would like more information on any of the aforementioned PCs, don’t hesitate to contact a trusted criminal defense attorney.

The Prosecution

A conviction for perjury means the prosecution was successfully able to prove all the elements of the crime took place. These elements are also referred to as facts of the case which are;

  • The defendant took an oath or made a statement to tell the truth while under penalty of perjury,
    • An oath is considered any method approved by the law to assert the truth of a statement.
  • They intentionally presented information knowing it was false,
  • That information is considered material to the case in question,
    • Material means any information that was likely to influence the results of the case.
  • They understood the statement they were making was not true while under oath or under penalty of perjury, and
  • At the time the false statement was made, the defendant had fully intended to provide erroneous testimony.

Furthermore, if the prosecution can prove any of these facts took place, they can successfully convict someone of perjury under PC 118.

  • If the information provided by the accused was in a certified form, a declaration, or a deposition,
  • They signed and delivered that information to another party, and
  • Intended this information be presented to the public as honest and true.

Who Can Be Charged?

The situations below illustrate who can be charged with committing perjury as outlined in PC 118.

Example 1:

Sammy witnessed a person in authority commit a crime and he came forward to testify. After taking the stand, he recanted his statements and claimed he could no longer remember what he had seen.

Now, for a case like this, there are several reasons Sammy would be lying after making multiple, honest depositions with police and prosecutors. He could be charged with perjury. On the other hand, if it was discovered that the defendant illegally persuaded Sammy to change his statement and Sammy was under threat to do so, he might not get charged with perjury. In the end, he will have to tell the truth in order to avoid serious perjury charges.

Example 2:

Vanessa got a speeding ticket for driving dangerously above the speed limit. The officer issued her the ticket and they parted ways. Instead of fessing up to her mistake, she chose to fight the ticket in front of the judge. She deceitfully stated the police officer harassed her for a date, when she refused, he issued her the ticket.

Fortunately, the officer involved had his camera on and the truth was revealed about the whole traffic encounter. Vanessa was charged with perjury for lying to the judge while under oath.

Example 3:

Stan was caught on audio committing a crime. During the trial, his best friend Tyler took the stand and falsely stated that it wasn’t Stan’s voice in the recording, it was his.

This was proven to be false and Tyler could get charged with perjury. Even if the case against Stan was not affected by Tyler’s testimony, it’s up to the judges’ discretion on how severe the penalties would be.

Legal Defenses

There are common defenses a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer might use to fight charges for PC 118, perjury. Here are some of the questions that could initially be asked in order to ascertain a defense.

Was it a mistake or a misunderstanding?

There are two defenses that fall under this answer, the mistake of fact and the accident defense. A mistake of fact means the defendant believed their statement to be true, even if their belief was mistaken or based on a lie.

Essentially, if the defendant gave false testimony based on a reasonable mistake of fact (and they did not honestly know it was based on a lie), then perjury was not committed. Instances where an individual unwittingly gave a dishonest statement while under oath might be considered as a valid accident defense.

Also, situations where a truthful statement was made, but the full truth was not revealed could be covered under these defenses. Something like this is also referred to as lying by omission. However, there are instances where, when under pressure, certain details can be forgotten. That said, one technically didn’t present partial truths if they accidentally forgot material facts. It also helps the accident defense when every statement previously provided was still true.

Are you the actual offender?

There are usually specific reasons why cases of mistaken identity have some validity against perjury charges. For instance, you live in the same county as someone else who has the same name and birthday. This person commits perjury in written form, and you get notified of the offense. You are obviously not culpable for the crime and a mistake was made in getting you involved at all.

PC 530.5, identity theft is another defense against perjury charges. It’s not that difficult for identity thieves to get ahold of your personal information. These days, you can simply go online and look up people’s names, addresses, phone numbers, and more.

Perjury can be committed in written form on documents like credit/loan applications, traffic tickets/reports, or other forms that have language such as, “I swear under penalty of perjury that the information provided here is true.” If one’s identity was stolen under these circumstances, you should not be held liable for any of the crimes this person does in your name.

Was it an attempt to correct a false statement?

In cases where someone tries to correct their alleged false statements right after making them often shows that they did not mean to give false testimony. Promptly recanting your statement in order to correct yourself shows you did not intend to lie and would not be guilty of committing perjury.

It’s important to remember, in order to be convicted of perjury, one must intentionally, willfully, or deliberately provide false, dishonest, or fraudulent testimony. When it comes to the above defenses, the intention to lie was absent, thus perjury was not committed as specifically defined under PC 118.

Is there enough evidence?

There are moments when someone else’s testimony can conflict with yours. However, another individual’s statement not coinciding with yours is insufficient and should not be enough for a perjury conviction.

Penalties

California does not give you an easy pass for committing perjury. In fact, perjury is considered a felony offense with strict consequences. It’s up to the judges' discretion on how severe the penalties are. They usually base it on:

  • whether your perjury was significant,
  • Did this act seriously harm another person, and
  • Your criminal history.

The punishments applied to your case are at the discretion of the judge. This means they also have the full authority to apply minimal or no jail time and can allow probation. However, if convicted of PC 118, perjury, the following could apply:

  • Felony (formal probation)
  • Up to one year in the county jail, and/or
  • 2, 3, or 4 years in a state penitentiary.

Enhanced Penalties

Getting convicted of perjury places a huge stain on one’s record. This crime is considered one of moral turpitude which would have negative repercussions on any future academic, professional, or business plans.

More discerning ramifications apply if your perjury causes another person to be convicted, imprisoned, and executed. You could face aggravated perjury charges which carry these punishments:

  • Life in a state penitentiary without the possibility of parole, or
  • A possible death sentence.

With all this in mind, it’s important not to forget further reparations outside of this specific offense. For instance, the victim may well be within their rights to pursue any punitive damages against a defendant. Especially in cases where they suffered any extreme physical harm, mental stress, or financial ruin. Suffice it to say, one could find themselves facing additional fines to cover any medical, financial, and/or legal expenses of the alleged victim(s).

Retaining a legal defense is one of the most recommended ways to fight against these accusations. Disregarding the severity of this offense or any related charges would be one of the biggest mistakes you could make. Don’t be afraid to get the defense lawyer you need to maintain control of your life.

Penalties for Similar and Related Offenses

California PC 470 , Forgery;

Misdemeanor;

As much as one thousand dollars in fines, and

Up to one year in the county jail.

Felony;

Fines of up to ten thousand dollars (more if the fraud resulted in a higher financial loss), and

Potentially 16 months, 2, or 3 years in state prison.

California PC 115 , Filing false or forged documents;

Felony;

Up to ten thousand dollars in fines, and/or

16 months, 2, or 3 years in state prison.

Additional Penalties;

Fines could double, triple, or worse depending on the type of document that was fraudulently filed.

California PC 118.1, Filing a false police report;

Misdemeanor;

Summary probation, and

Up to one year in the county jail.

Felony;

Formal probation, and

Up to one year in the county jail, OR

16 months, 2, or 3 years in a state prison.

California PC 127, Subornation of perjury;

Violating and being convicted of this offense carries the same punishments as if you had committed the act of perjury yourself.

Felony;

Formal probation,

Up to one year in the county jail, OR

2, 3, or 4-year state prison sentence.

California Vehicle Code 10501 VC, filing a false auto theft report;

Misdemeanor;

Summary (informal) probation;

Fines of up to one thousand dollars, and/or

Up to six months in the county jail.

You should not have to face perjury charges for a specific vehicle code offense. Especially when VC 10501 carries misdemeanor penalties whereas PC 118 is an automatic felony. That said, if this is a second offense under this specific vehicle code, you could face felony consequences.

2nd offense,

Misdemeanor;

The county jail sentence could double to up to one year.

Felony;

Fines of up to ten thousand dollars, and/or

16 months, 2, or 3 years in the county jail. 

California PC 136.1, Dissuading a witness or victim;

Misdemeanor;

Up to one thousand dollars in fines, and/or

Up to one year in county jail.

Felony;

Fines of up to ten thousand dollars, and

Between 16 months and 4 years in a state prison.

California PC 653f, Solicitation of a crime law;

Under this section, the punishment depends on the crime that was solicited. For instance, aggravated assault, sex crimes, and murder carry substantially different consequences than other offenses.

For the purposes of this article, soliciting another person to commit perjury or dissuading a witness or victim, and failing in that pursuit could result in being charged with PC 653f . Solicitation of a crime is a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If convicted, you face:

Misdemeanor;

Possible court fines of one thousand dollars or more, and/or

Up to one year in the county jail.

Felony;

Steeper fines of ten thousand dollars or more, and

16 months, 2, or 3-year county jail sentence.

Taking the Next Steps

California treats perjury as a crime of moral turpitude and penalizes it as a felonious act. It’s highly recommended you find a strong, criminal defense attorney who knows how to dispute this kind of allegation.

Located in San Diego, Los Angeles, or Orange County? Contact the Law Offices of Anna R. Yum for the legal expertise you need. She is also licensed to practice law in the state of Illinois. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Yum knows what it takes to combat these types of offenses.

For more details on your legal defense or for a free criminal defense consultation call 619-233-4433.

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