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California Penal Code 118 PC – “Perjury” Law

CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE SECTION 118 PC – “PERJURY” LAW 

Los Angeles Criminal Defense LawyerIn California, perjury is outlined in Penal Code 118 PC as the act of knowingly giving false testimony while under oath. This offense is considered a felony and carries a potential sentence of up to four years in jail.

According to the language of this statute, an individual commits perjury when they take an oath to testify before a competent tribunal, person, or officer, and intentionally provide false information or lie.

An oath is defined as an affirmation or other authorized method to affirm the truth of a statement.

Perjury laws in PC 118 apply to various situations, including testimony in courtrooms or civil depositions, statements made in sworn affidavits and declarations, and information submitted in driver’s license applications.

A statement is considered “material” if it is used by the court to impact the outcome of a proceeding or if it had the potential to influence the outcome, regardless of the actual outcome.

Penal Code Section 118 PC states:(a) 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.

This subdivision is applicable whether the statement, or the testimony, declaration, deposition, or certification is made or subscribed within or without the State of California.

(b) No person shall be convicted of perjury where proof of falsity rests solely upon contradiction by testimony of a single person other than the defendant. Proof of falsity may be established by direct or indirect evidence.”

Source: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=118.

ELEMENTS

To secure a conviction, the prosecutor must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, all the elements of the crime (CALCRIM 2640) in a perjury case. These elements include:

  • The defendant took an oath to provide truthful testimony.
  • The defendant willingly stated information as true, despite knowing it to be false.
  • The defendant was aware they were making a statement while under oath.
  • The defendant had the intent to provide false testimony when making the statement.
  • The information provided by the defendant was a material matter.
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It is important to note that anyone can face charges under Penal Code 118 for perjury if they provide false information while testifying in court, during a deposition, or when signing an affidavit, declaration, or certificate.

EXAMPLE

Sarah is called to testify as a witness in a high-profile criminal case. During her testimony, she knowingly provides false information about her whereabouts on the night of the incident in order to protect her friend who is the actual culprit. Sarah signs a statement under penalty of perjury acknowledging that her testimony is truthful. Later, it is discovered that Sarah lied during her testimony, and she is charged with perjury. If convicted, she could face penalties including fines and even imprisonment for intentionally providing false information while being aware of the consequences.

PENALTIES, PUNISHMENT, AND SENTENCING

Perjury is regarded as a crime involving moral turpitude in California, and violators can face serious penalties. It is considered a felony offense that can lead to punishments such as imprisonment for up to four years and a maximum fine of $10,000. A convicted person may also be sentenced to felony probation or community service.

In some instances, a judge may choose probation as an alternative to jail time, requiring the individual to participate in remedial activities like counseling, community service, and payment of court fines for up to 3 years.

However, unlike other crimes involving moral turpitude, perjury does not typically lead to deportation for non-citizens. Nevertheless, it can result in the loss of gun rights, and having a perjury conviction on one’s record can also impede future employment opportunities and other long-term goals.

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DEFENSES

A defendant facing a perjury charge may use several legal defenses to contest the accusation. Three common defenses include asserting that there was no intentional lie, that the matter in question was not material, or that the statement was not made under oath.

  • No Intentional Lie: A defendant may argue that there was no intentional lie, and they may not be found guilty if they can demonstrate that they made a false statement by mistake or with a good faith belief that it was true.
  • No Material Matter: It is a defense to assert that the statement in question was not on a material issue within a proceeding. For example, if a witness lied about her age, and it was unrelated to the case, this could be used as a defense.
  • Not Under Oath: The Penal Code 118 only applies if a person made a statement while under oath. Therefore, the defendant may not be guilty if they can prove that they made a false statement and were not sworn in to testify truthfully.

IMMIGRATION CONSEQUENCES

A conviction under these laws will not result in any unfavorable immigration consequences. While California law stipulates that crimes involving moral turpitude can lead to deportation or inadmissibility for non-citizens, perjury does not fall under this category. If you or someone you know is charged with this crime, it is strongly advisable that you also consult with an immigration lawyer. If you do not have or know of an immigration lawyer, the Tabibnia Law Firm can refer you to one.

CAN A DEFENDANT GET A CONVICTION EXPUNGED?

An individual is eligible for an expungement only if they were placed on probation.

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Expungements are not permitted if a defendant serves a prison sentence. This restriction does not apply to time spent in county jail.

Consequently, an expungement cannot be granted for a perjury conviction that leads to imprisonment. However, if the defendant is sentenced to probation instead of prison, the crime may be eligible for expungement.

RELATED CRIMES

  • Forgery – California Penal Code Section 470 PC
  • Suborning Perjury – California Penal Code Section 127 PC
  • Filing False or Forged DocumentsCalifornia Penal Code Section 115 PC
  • Filing a False Police Report – California Penal Code Section 118.1 PC
  • Offering false evidence – California Penal Code 132 PC
  • Preparing false evidence – California Penal Code 134 PC
  • False report of auto theft – California Vehicle Code 10501 VC

SPEAK WITH CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER FROM TABIBNIA LAW FIRM

Our experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, Cyrus Tabibnia, leverages his extensive expertise to tailor the best strategy for your case.

It’s crucial to understand that the potential criminal allegations could significantly impact your future. Reach out to Tabibnia Law firm to explore how Cyrus can vigorously defend you.

Collaborating with Cyrus to protect your case and reputation offers the best path to success. He has the capability to negotiate with the prosecutor for reduced charges or even dismissal of the case.

Moreover, through prefiling intervention, he may sway the prosecutor to refrain from formally filing charges before court.

Our law firm provides a prompt and complimentary response to assist you in evaluating your situation effectively. Call us at 866-713-2159 for immediate help.

Sources:

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia, also known as Shahrooz Tabibnia, is a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, California. With a law degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, he has been practicing law since 2005 and holds license #237348. With over 18 years of experience, Cyrus specializes in various misdemeanor and felony criminal Law including Domestic Violence, Theft Crime, Sex crime, DUI & DWI, Personal Injury, Employment Law, and Cannabis & Marijuana Drugs Law. Being bilingual in English, Persian, and Spanish enables him to effectively communicate with a diverse range of clients. From 2014 to 2018, he served as a board member of the Iranian American Bar Association. An expungement attorney in Los Angeles who can assist you in clearing your criminal record in the state of California.

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