Perjury is more than just lying on official documents (such as driver’s license applications). It happens when you provide false testimony in or out of court and lie in affidavits, and any other official written declaration under oath. Such information must be material or essential in a way that may affect the outcome of a proceeding.
Most people commit perjury to achieve an outcome that benefits them, for example, lying about their income when applying for welfare programs. Likewise, someone can lie while giving testimony to protect their friend who is facing theft charges, claiming they didn’t see anything when they actually witnessed the crime. This was all done after confirming that they understood their obligation to tell the truth—also called ‘taking an oath’.
However, what if you simply made a mistake or reasonably believe that your statement is true?
Keep in mind that perjury happens when you intentionally give false information. If that’s not the case, you can challenge the prosecution’s evidence. Other defenses used to dismiss these charges are:
- You were not under oath or didn’t declare under penalty of perjury.
- The declarations are not considered material or relevant to the case (e.g., you lied about your age while answering questions regarding a money-laundering scheme at your workplace).
- You corrected the mistake on time or before it affected the legal proceeding.
- You may have said something misleading but didn’t have the intention to lie.
Not every false statement is perjury. Confusion and memory loss of specific events can lead to false testimony, but it’s not enough to accuse you of this crime because lying was not the sole purpose.
However, saying you weren’t present at the scene of a crime when testifying and later on admitting you witnessed it when questioned again is, in fact, an inconsistent testimony. This can easily end up in perjury charges.
Proving your innocence in these cases is complicated. Only an experienced attorney can build a strong defense to reduce or dismiss the charges—and we have all the expertise required. Schedule a free consultation today in California.