I don't see a lot of perjury charges under California Penal Code Section 118. Usually, where I'm seeing perjury is when people are doing sneaky stuff at the DMV — signing documents under penalty of perjury — the DMV catches them, they're trying to get fake information, whatever the case may be and then end up getting charged with perjury set into one of the Los Angeles criminal courts.
Another area where I see perjury is in insurance fraud cases where people are trying to trick or cheat their insurance company out of money somehow — whether it's a fake accident or some sort of a fake claim — and they end up giving a statement under penalty of perjury and getting prosecuted for the offense of perjury.
You just don't see a lot of cases what you would consider the typical perjury case if you just thought about it where the government is claiming that someone lied on the witness stand and they end up arresting them after their testimony and charging them with perjury.
It happens but it just doesn't happen that often. You really have to nail somebody because usually, the person that's testifying and gets caught lying is one of the government's own witnesses so they tend to let those type of situations skate unless it's a real direct catch where it's so blatantly clear that they're lying and making up false allegations against somebody, the government then becomes angry, feels bad for the person that they prosecuted — dismisses the case and then charges the offending party with perjury.
Again, you just don't see it that often because usually you're only catching them lying on one point. It's not the whole case for the government and there's an argument that they're not lying. They've got some sort of a stupid excuse why they're not lying and why they're actually telling the truth.
Perjury is a Straight Felony
But if you're charged with perjury it's serious because it's a straight felony. There's no such thing as misdemeanor perjury. So, anybody who is charged with a straight felony is potentially looking at prison or jail time if they're convicted. Obviously, a perjury charge is a very serious charge you wouldn't want on your record. When you're trying to get a job or some sort of a career move, having a perjury charge on your criminal record is not going to be something that you want.
So, if you or a loved one is charged with perjury, obviously you're going to want to give somebody like me a call. We'll sit down and talk about it and see if the government really has the goods on you. In other words, do they have the evidence to prove the perjury charge or is it a false allegation.
That's one of the first things that we really need to do in evaluating a criminal case is first determine whether or not the government, meaning the prosecutors, can prove the case against you. If they can, then obviously we're going to want to think about some sort of a resolution, a plead negotiation, getting character letters — showing whatever conduct, it is an aberration so we can convince the prosecutors not to put you in jail — not to ruin your good name and your criminal record.
If on the other hand, your innocent and you're going to take the case to trial, then obviously, we need to put the pieces in place to do that. We need to do the investigation, get the evidence together and be ready to go at a potential trial in the case.
When it's a trial for perjury charges we want to be ready because if you get convicted there's a chance that you will be taken into custody immediately after the guilty verdict and you'll be looking at jail time or even prison time, depending on the circumstances surrounding the perjury charges — who the judge is, who the prosecutor is, what your criminal record looks like and a host of other factors that can really only be determined by sitting down, talking about your case and getting a strategy together right from the beginning.
To me, as a criminal defense lawyer doing this twenty-five years, getting that strategy together from the beginning is crucial because it really dictates what you do in the case, what moves you make, who you talk to, what type of an investigation you do, how you deal with the prosecutor, how you deal with the Judge. So, pick up the phone today. I can help you if you're charged with perjury anywhere in Los Angeles county.