If you are charged with committing perjury in California, reach out to a crime against justice lawyer at My Rights Law. When you hire My Rights Law, you get a firm with substantial experience in winning cases like yours. My Rights Law is highly experienced in winning cases similar to yours. We will carefully review your situation and work tirelessly to defend you. To best protect your rights, call My Rights Law at (888) 702-8882 or leave a message on our secure web form to set up a free consultation.
Anyone who has ever watched a legal drama has listened to someone get sworn in as a witness under oath. “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” is, therefore, a question with which most American adults are familiar. But what exactly does it mean to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth when questions to be answered under oath tend to be phrased with great precision, and few witnesses are allowed to speak at length about their experiences and perceptions without interruption? What happens if someone doesn’t tell the truth, as defined by law? The answer to the first question is nuanced and complex. The answer to the second question is the crime of perjury, and a perjury conviction could carry major consequences.
What Is Perjury?
Under California law, it is illegal to willfully make statements that an individual knows to be false while under oath to tell the truth. Individuals may be placed under oath while testifying, making declarations, participating in depositions, or otherwise certifying the truth of statements made as they relate to a legal matter. False statements under oath might be made to public officers, competent tribunals, or any individuals authorized to administer a legal oath.
Anyone who willfully makes a false statement regarding any material matter may be found guilty of perjury charges. This means that if you insist – while under oath – that a matter that is potentially consequential to a case is true when you know that it is false, you can be charged with and convicted of perjury. So, committing perjury only involves certain false testimony, not every sworn statement.
What Is The Penalty Of Perjury In California?
Perjury is classified as a felony under California law. That means the punishment for perjury is far more severely than many “lesser” misdemeanor crimes are. As a result, it is critically important to treat any accusations of perjury that have been levied against you with the utmost seriousness. If you’re convicted of felony perjury, you could face a term of incarceration in state prison for up to four years and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Note that while a conviction for various crimes can result in serious immigration consequences, perjury is not a “crime of moral turpitude” and, therefore, immigrants cannot be deported on the basis that they have been convicted of perjury in the state of California.
Defenses To Accusations Of Perjury
California law protects individuals from being convicted of perjury if the “proof of falsity” of their claims is made solely by contradictory testimony of a single individual. Additionally, potentially successful defensive strategies against accusations of perjury may include proving that the accused was not actually under oath at the time the false statements we made, that any falsehoods uttered were made unintentionally, or that the subject of the false statements was not material in nature.
To be convicted of perjury, it must be proven that a defendant willfully – meaning, purposefully or willingly – attested that information was true that they knew to be false. If the accused did not know that a statement was false or did not know that their words were being interpreted as insisting that something false was true, they could potentially defend themselves against the specific intent requirement of this crime.
Additionally, it might be argued that whatever false information was spoken of as truth was not material in nature. Usually, the concept of “material” in a legal context means that it is so consequential that it can dramatically influence the outcome of a case. This means that if someone attests that a truly insignificant detail in the context of a case was spoken of as truth when the speaker knew it to be false, they almost certainly won’t be convicted of perjury. Even false statements under oath are not considered criminal if they aren’t material in nature. With that said, what is and isn’t material is a fine line and one that anyone under oath shouldn’t try to parse without the assistance of a good attorney.
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