Lying is generally frowned upon by our society. Sometimes, lying can even lead to criminal charges. The state of California uses California Penal Code Section 118: Perjury to prosecute individuals who break the law by lying.
You can strengthen your understanding of PC 118 with the professionals at the Simmrin Law Group. Learn more about the penalties for a perjury conviction and criminal defense options right here.
Defining Perjury in California
Perjury has a very specific legal definition. An individual cannot be charged with perjury just for telling a lie. Individuals could only be convicted under PC 118 if they take an oath or put themselves under penalty of perjury and then:
- Intentionally Make a False Statement
- While Intending to Provide False Testimony Under Oath
An individual must be aware that they are under oath in order to be subject to perjury laws. It is also worth noting that individuals can only perjure themselves when speaking about “material” information. Legally, “material” information includes any information that could impact legal proceedings.
Individuals can face perjury charges for making intentionally false statements while:
- Testifying in Court
- Testifying in Civil Depositions
- Making a Sworn Affidavit
- Filling Out a Driver’s License Application
- Providing Information for Official Certificates
If an individual lies in a report or through writing they could be charged under:
- California Penal Code Section 115: Filing False or Forged Documents
- California Penal Code Section 118.1: Filing a False Police Report
Penalties for Perjury in California
The state of California treats perjury as a felony. A conviction for any act of perjury could lead to up to 4 years of time in prison. Individuals may also be forced to pay hefty fines if they are convicted of perjury.
Note that there are several other charges that can be tied to acts of perjury. These crimes might lead to additional criminal charges:
- California Penal Code Section 32: Accessory After The Fact
- California Penal Code Section 132 & 134: Offering Or Preparing False Evidence
- California Penal Code Section 135: Destroying Or Concealing Evidence
A professional Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help individuals facing charges of perjury and other serious accusations.
Examples of Perjury in California
There are many ways to commit perjury in California. Go over the following examples to learn more about this legal charge:
Man A is called as a witness in his friend’s trial. He swears to tell the truth while on the witness stand and then lies to provide his friend with an alibi. The prosecution later proves that he was misrepresenting the truth. Man A could be charged with perjury.
Man B goes to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get his driver’s license. He does not want anyone to know where he lives, so he provides a false address. Later, this lie is discovered and he is charged with perjury. He could be convicted because he intentionally provided false information.
Man C is called to testify in court about the actions his superiors at work. He provides the court with testimony about acts that he believed to be truthful because he was told that they were. In fact, his superiors lied to him and he ended up repeating the lies. Because he was unaware that he was lying, he would not be charged with perjury.
Building a Defense to Perjury Charges
Beating a perjury charge can be difficult, especially without professional help from a criminal defense lawyer. Individuals who work with a lawyer can increase their chances of defending against a perjury accusation. A lawyer may be able to show:
You Did Not Know You Were Lying
Some individuals share false information while under oath because they believe it to be the truth. Individuals should not be convicted of perjury if they had a reasonable belief that they were telling the truth.
You Accidentally Lied Under Oath
Some people slip and make a false statement while they are under oath. A perjury conviction requires you to intentionally tell a lie. If you realized you spoke mistakenly and tried to correct the error, you may be able to avoid a perjury conviction.
Get Help Handling Perjury Charges in California
A conviction for perjury can have lasting effects on your life. Make sure you’re ready to take on California Penal Code Section 118: Perjury charges by contacting the Simmrin Law Group today. You can get a FREE consultation with our criminal defense lawyers right now.
Start building your defense by completing our online contact form or calling (310) 997-4688.