Perjury California: An Overview of Legal Penalties and Defenses

Facing charges related to perjury in California? The Law Offices of Christopher Chaney can offer you legal representation. Book an appointment with us today.

A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Perjury and its Legal Implications in California

Lying under oath, or perjury, is a serious offense with significant consequences. Whether you’re speaking or writing, intentionally providing false essential facts while under oath, whether in a courtroom or elsewhere, counts as perjury. In California, perjury is considered a major felony, and you could face up to four years in prison. 

It’s important to note that many people unknowingly get caught in the perjury trap due to its broad scope, including courtroom testimonies and various legal documents. This highlights the need to educate ourselves about the legal boundaries of truthfulness. 

At the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney, we have extensive experience in criminal defense to help you navigate these complex legal waters. Our thorough understanding of perjury and its implications under California law allows us to protect your rights and interests.

What is Perjury?

Legal Definition of Perjury in California

Perjury involves knowingly providing false testimony under oath. According to the California Penal Code, an individual commits perjury when they take an oath to testify before a competent tribunal, person, or officer in any applicable case and then deliberately lies or provides false information. In this context, an oath refers to a legally authorized affirmation or other method used to affirm the truth of a statement.

A person can also be convicted of subornation of perjury for procuring or influencing another person to commit perjury. To be charged with subornation of perjury, the person who was induced or influenced must actually commit perjury.

PC 118 perjury laws apply to testimony in a courtroom or during a civil deposition, statements made in an affidavit and declaration, and facts submitted in a driver’s license application. 

Perjury should not be confused with forgery, as these are distinct offenses despite their similarities. Perjury occurs when an individual deliberately lies under oath, whereas forgery involves the fraudulent alteration or falsification of signatures or documents. It is worth noting that, unlike perjury, forgery does not require the accused to be under oath.

Elements of the Offense

Falsity rests solely on the prosecution. Under the California Penal Code, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following four elements:

  • Oath or Affirmation: A person must take an oath or affirmation promising to tell the truth before providing information.
  • False Statement: A statement that is intended to deceive or mislead and made intentionally.
  • Materiality: False statements must be material, meaning they are relevant to the issue at hand and can affect the outcome.
  • Proceeding or Declaration: False claims must be made in a legal setting where an oath is required, such as in a court proceeding, or in a written document such as a declaration, certificate, verification, or any other authorized document.

Consequences of Perjury in California

Criminal Penalties

The charge of perjury is a serious felony. If convicted, you could face up to four years in prison, as well as high fines. If perjury results in the wrongful conviction and execution of someone else, it attracts a more severe penalty. It’s called aggravated perjury, and you can end up spending your life behind bars or, in some cases, even facing the death penalty.

Long-Term Implications

A prison sentence is not the only penalty of perjury. A perjury conviction can seriously impact your job prospects, career growth, and ability to get loans or professional licenses. Your case outcome depends on your defense attorney’s knowledge, skill, and experience. Hiring a seasoned criminal defense lawyer who can provide professional guidance in your perjury case is crucial.

At the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney, we understand how profound a perjury conviction is. Our highly skilled legal team is dedicated to mounting a solid defense by challenging evidence and examining how it was obtained. 

We’re adept at negotiating plea bargains, exploring defenses, and creating a compelling courtroom strategy. Our primary objective is safeguarding your rights and preserving your freedom by minimizing charges or achieving a full acquittal.

Navigating Perjury Cases in California

The Legal Process

Perjury charges follow a multi-step process, similar to other criminal cases. It all begins with an investigation to gather direct or indirect evidence of the alleged perjury. Formal charges are drafted and filed if a strong case is built. After the initial proceedings, the arraignment happens, where the defendant shows up in court and states if they’re guilty or not guilty.

The defendant’s criminal defense attorney may file pretrial motions to challenge evidence or seek favorable rulings at this stage. In many instances, a plea bargain is negotiated as an alternative to going to trial. However, if no agreement is reached, the case proceeds to trial, where a judge or jury will decide. If convicted, the judge determines the appropriate sentence based on established guidelines.

Common Defense Strategies

Possible defenses against a charge of perjury include:

  1. Lack of intent: You did not knowingly make a false statement.
  2. Coercion: You were forced to make a false statement against your will.
  3. Technically truthful statement: While misleading, your statement was technically true.
  4. Absence of oath: You were not legally obligated to tell the truth when you lied.
  5. Immaterial statement: The false statement was not relevant to a material fact.
  6. Recantation: You promptly corrected false statements.

These defenses can be invoked to challenge the perjury charge and protect your rights.

Working with Your Attorney

Hiring a highly experienced and skilled sex crimes attorney is extremely important when facing perjury charges. Their experience and understanding of the legal landscape can make a massive difference in the outcome of your case.

At the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney, we provide comprehensive legal assistance tailored to your unique circumstances. Our team emphasizes clear and open communication, so don’t hesitate to share all the essential information. These values allow us to create the most effective defense strategy.

As our client, your role is crucial in establishing a solid working relationship with your attorney. Here are some tips for fostering a productive attorney-client dynamic:

  • Honesty is Key: Always be upfront and honest with your attorney. Transparency is critical to anticipate any challenges and prepare a strong defense.

  • Communication: Stay in touch with your attorney regularly. Timely sharing of information can shape the proceedings of your case.

  • Trust: You have to have confidence in your attorney’s experience. There is no doubt that they are knowledgeable and always look out for your best interests.

Building a solid attorney-client relationship based on trust and respect can contribute to successfully resolving your case.

Charting the Course Towards a Successful Legal Outcome

The consequences of perjury charges in California can be severe, with long-term implications and a complex legal process to navigate. It’s crucial to have a qualified and experienced white-collar crime lawyer by your side – someone who can genuinely make a difference in the outcome of your case.

Here at the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney, we’re particular about providing exceptional legal representation tailored to your situation. We’re dedicated to you, our client, and believe in open communication, understanding, and confidentiality throughout the legal process.

Contact us for a consultation today. Our dedicated team is here to guide you towards a successful legal resolution.

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