Los Angeles Perjury Defense Lawyers
In the state of California, perjury is defined as intentionally providing false information under oath. In today’s society, many statements and actions could be wrongly considered perjury, and you may be facing serious criminal charges for a simple misunderstanding or mistake. Without the right attorney, that mistake could quickly snowball into several years in a state prison.
At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, we take a team approach to defending our clients. At our firm, you don’t just get one attorney – you get an entire team dedicated to identifying the best strategy for your defense. We work fast, efficiently, and professionally, and have been successfully defending clients facing a range of criminal charges since 1994. If you are facing charges of perjury, then you need a reliable criminal defense attorney by your side. Call us at (213) 688-0460 to set up your free consultation.
Perjury in California is defined as intentionally providing false information under oath. When you enter a court of law, or fill out legal documentation, or otherwise contact the government, you will likely be asked to swear, either in person or on paper, that you are telling the complete truth. This is meant to ensure that the government and justice system can make informed decisions on reliable information as quickly as possible. When someone commits perjury, it can have a serious impact on what decisions are made and lead officials into making an incorrect decision. As such, the crime of perjury is taken seriously.
However, no matter how serious a crime is, due process is still necessary. That means you will only be convicted if the prosecution can prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you are guilty. For you to be convicted, the following elements must be proven by the prosecutor:
- You took an oath or otherwise signed a document that stated that the contents were true under threat of perjury.
- You willfully conveyed the statement.
- You intentionally stated that your information was true despite knowing that it was false.
- The information is considered “material” to the situation.
The obvious example that most people have seen is in courtroom proceedings where witnesses are sworn in with something along the lines of “Do you swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth?” However, there are many other less-obvious examples of perjury. For example:
- Falsifying any information at the DMV.
- Falsifying any document signed with a notation of “affirm that this is true under penalty of perjury” or any similar wording.
- Providing any false information in a sworn deposition.
- Providing false information in a statement.
- It is important to note that a misworded or confusing oath is not a valid defense for perjury.
Perjury is an intent crime, meaning you must have intended to commit it in order to be convicted. If you are filling out a complicated form for the DMV or IRS, and accidently fill out a section incorrectly, you have not committed perjury, as you did not intend to lie or misinform. Rather, you made a mistake. Of course, the prosecution will do everything in their power to prove that you purposefully tried to mislead the government. If they succeed, then you could be facing serious penalties.
Since perjury is a crime of fraud, typically against the government, the penalties for it can be incredibly harsh. Allowing people to lie on legal documents would have serious consequences for the way our government is run, so the court may elect to hold you as an example to others on the dangers of committing perjury. In fact, perjury is automatically a felony in the state of California and can lead to the following penalties:
- Up to four years in prison
- A fine of up to $10,000
If the judge chooses to give you a more lenient sentence, you may be penalized with one year of felony probation, instead of time in prison, or as part of your overall sentence. Of course, the severity of the penalty is very much up to the discretion of the judge. The penalty is also affected by a prior criminal record and whether it is a first or repeat offense.
An additional factor of a conviction of perjury is that it is considered to be a “crime of moral turpitude.” A crime of moral turpitude is defined as a crime that involves either dishonesty or base, vile, or depraved conduct that is shocking to a reasonable person. Being convicted of a crime of moral turpitude can:
- Significantly affect immigration (if you are not a U.S. citizen) and in some cases lead to deportation
- Cause you to lose your professional license (doctor, lawyer, etc.)
- Be used to damage your credibility as a witness in future proceedings
- If you are charged with perjury, you must get the right attorneys on your side to defend you and pursue a favorable outcome.
This means that even after serving years in prison, you may continue to pay for your crime for the rest of your life. On top of facing further penalties due to perjury being a crime of moral turpitude, you may also have your sentence lengthened due to other crimes related to perjury.
Nearly every crime has other offenses that are related to it, which means most people will face multiple charges during their trial. Related offenses often result in heavier fines and a longer period of time in jail or prison. When it comes to perjury, there are three key crimes that are related to it, and often charged alongside it. Those are:
Filing false documents: Filing a false document is considered a fraud crime in California. This offense usually consists of knowingly registering, recording, or filing a forged document with a government office. For example, forging a real estate deed for your own benefit. This crime can add another three years to your original sentence, as well as a hefty fine of up to $10,000.
Forgery: Most people have heard of this common crime, and most fraud charges will include a charge of forgery. Essentially, forgery is when you illegally alter a document, or sign someone else’s name, and try to pass it off as authentic. What jail time you face for this crime will depend on whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony. For a misdemeanor, you could be given an extra year in jail. For a felony, that could be pushed to up to three years in prison.
Subornation of perjury: This is a specific kind of perjury that means you have persuaded others to commit perjury and they do perjure themselves. In this case, there are two guilty parties: the one who convinced the other to perjure, and the person who actually committed the perjury. This crime usually carries the same penalties as perjury, so your punishment could be doubled if you are convicted of both.
Remember, perjury is an intent crime. Not only does the prosecution need to show that you lied on a form or in person, they must also show that it was an intentional lie. Making a mistake should not mean that you have to face time behind bars. Thankfully, proving intent can be incredibly difficult, whereas creating reasonable doubt is not. In a perjury case, a skilled defense attorney would likely make several arguments, including:
- Mistake or misunderstanding: Perjury includes intentionally providing information you know is false. If you believed it to be true when you said it, it isn’t perjury.
- Insufficient evidence: One contradictory bit of testimony is not sufficient evidence.
- The statement is not “material” to the matter at hand: The false statement must be necessary in some way to the case.
- You are not the one who committed the crime: If someone else forged a document in your name, you have a valid defense.
In other words, if it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that you did not intentionally provide false information while under oath, you have a valid defense. That being said, you will still need some form of evidence to prove that you did not intend to commit perjury. Successfully arguing against the prosecution requires skill and dedication. That is where Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP comes in.
Defending against a charge of perjury requires an intimate knowledge of the law. The legal team at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP has a proven track record at trial, and if we take on your case, you will be represented by experienced professionals.
Criminal defense is all we do. If you or someone you love is facing a perjury charge, contact us today at (213) 688-0460 for a free consultation.
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.