For the legal system to work, people are held to certain duties when providing important information to the courts. They are notified of this duty and asked to sign or agree to fulfill this duty under penalty of perjury. However, some people think they can get away with not fulfilling this duty and thus may lie or otherwise provide false information while under oath. This is called perjury and it is a very serious offense. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately if you are facing perjury charges. This is a charge worth fighting. Because perjury is both a federal and state crime, your punishment will depend on under which court you committed perjury against. However, under both federal and California law, perjury is charged as a felony. Perjury can be committed in several ways. You can commit perjury by lying while providing a testimony in court or while being deposed. You can also commit perjury if you provide false information in a written document, such as a declaration or an affidavit you were signed under oath to. You can even face perjury by providing false information on a driver license application through the California DMV. Law enforcement officers can face perjury charges as well if they knowingly and with intention provide false information in a police report. At the end of most legal documents that require you to sign under oath, there will be a disclosure about perjury to clearly notify you of your duty to answer truthfully. You can also commit perjury by simply certifying something to be true, while you are under oath.
To be charged with the crime of perjury, it must be proven that you knowingly and willingly lied or otherwise provided false information you swore to be true under oath. Given the formality with which testimonies, depositions and written legal documents are executed, knowing that you were under oath is usually presumed. However, if for some reason you were not held under oath to tell the truth, you have a strong defense. Similarly, if you provide false information you believed to be true, even if it wasn't, you cannot be charged with perjury. For example, if you did not understand the question you were asked, and thus unintentionally answered it falsely, as you understood it, you could have provided false information while under oath. However, this does not constitute perjury. There are some defenses to perjury that are explicitly invalid. Claiming incompetency or claiming that the falsities provided were insignificant to the case are not valid defenses. The penalties for perjury are harsh, given the importance that the integrity of the legal system be preserved and the threat to that perjury may pose. Those convicted of perjury face a felony charge, punishable by two, three or four years in a California state prison.
Keep in mind, accidentally or unintentionally provide false information under oath is not perjury. Even if you are sworn under penalty of perjury to tell the truth, mistakes can happen. Legal documents often include complicated language that may not be comprehensible. You could easily misunderstand a question to the point of providing false information. Similarly, when asked to testify in court or be deposed, it can be easier than you would think to misunderstand the questions you are being asked. When in high stress situations like a deposition or a testimony in court, you may accidently provide false information with absolutely no intent to commit perjury. Speak with an attorney if you are facing perjury charges and feel you may have provided false information accidently. Innocent people have been charged with perjury. It is important you know your rights and know the circumstances under which you can avoid a perjury charge. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your crime, you may have a good defense in court.
If you are facing charges of perjury in the Tulare, Kings or Fresno County area, contact experienced DUI defense attorney Christopher Martens for expert counsel. The skilled legal team at The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can help ensure you take the right next steps in your case, ensuring you the best possible chance at a favorable outcome. Perjury is a complex charge and one that attorney Martens, with ten years of criminal defense experience, is prepared to challenge. Contact our offices in Hanford and Visalia at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss your case.