Don’t lie is a lesson that the majority of us learn as children. The majority of us are also familiar with the solemn oath that witnesses take before testifying in court, promising to “speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” thanks to television, movies, and even politics. Hence, it would appear that avoiding a crime like perjury is rather simple: don’t lie when you are giving testimony while under oath.
Yet, lying on oath is only one aspect of perjury. For instance, did you realize that lying on an application could result in perjury charges? If you signed an affidavit that contains false information? It is crucial that you comprehend what perjury is, how it is committed, and how to prevent it because there are many different circumstances in your life where you could be accused of doing it.
Keep reading for more information. Then contact Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088 for a free legal consultation.
There are four elements of perjury in California
Four things must be true for you to be guilty of perjury in California:
- You made a deliberate or willful statement
- That statement was (or related to) a “material” fact
- You made the statement with knowledge that it was false
- You were under oath to tell the truth at the time you made it
The first requirement of perjury is that the statement was made with purpose, which means that you filled out a form, wrote something, uttered something, or otherwise submitted information on purpose. Second, you knew the assertion was untrue when you said it.
Finally, when you delivered your statement, you were sworn in. Many applications and paperwork ask you to sign them “under penalty of perjury,” which does not always mean that you have been sworn in by a judge or other official in court.
For the purposes of a perjury charge, you may be deemed to be under oath if you sign something “under penalty of perjury.” Fourth, the statement must be based on a substantial fact, which is one that is important or might have an impact on how the procedure turns out.
You could commit perjury without realizing you are under oath
There are numerous ways in which perjury might occur. If you submit a false application for welfare payments, lying on your application about the number of children in your family could result in charges of perjury in addition to welfare fraud. You could be charged with perjury if you are asked to testify in court regarding a conflict between your neighbors and feign ignorance in an effort to curry favor with one of them.
The potential penalties for perjury can be significant
If you are found guilty of perjury, you might receive felony probation with up to one year in county jail or up to four years in county jail. A $10,000 fine is also possible. Nonetheless, a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in California could make use of a number of possible defenses to perjury accusations.
Your lawyer, for instance, might contend that since you erred in making your declaration, you did not knowingly make a false statement. Based on the specifics of your case, your California criminal defense lawyer may take into account additional factual or legal defenses to the perjury accusations.
Chambers Law Firm can assist you if you have been accused of perjury. Our legal staff has extensive experience defending clients accused of perjury and associated offenses. For a free initial consultation, call us at 714-760-4088.