Fri. Mar 31st, 2023

Penal Code 118 PC – California Penalty of “Perjury” Law

perjury is considered a crime of moral turpitude


Can Police Lye on Affidavits  – Short Answer, NO! THAT IS A VIOLATION OF PC 118.1

Not if they Value their Career & Freedom and Don’t want civil responsibility

Police have no expectation of privacy on phone calls.  Police lines are recorded expectations end there!


Perjury Definition

The law defines perjury as the act of:

“Any person who, in any affidavit taken before any person authorized to administer oaths, swears, affirms, declares, deposes, or certifies that he will testify, declare, depose, or certify before any competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any case then pending or thereafter to be instituted, in any particular manner, or to any particular fact, and in such affidavit willfully and contrary to such oath states as true any material matter which he knows to be false, is guilty of perjury.”

California Penal Code 118 PC

Examples Of Perjury

The following are some examples of this crime:

  • Lying when questioned about committing a crime of which he had full knowledge. For example, witnessing a homicide and responding on the stand or in an interrogation with the prosecutor who was not present at the scene.
  • Being summoned by a court to give a statement about a robbery and misrepresenting the facts. Either accusing an innocent or omitting actions relevant to the case.
  • Sign an affidavit in which false information is offered on a particular matter. For example, on the tax return.
  • Authenticate as a notary a document under oath, knowing that it is false.
  • You typed up a declaration per your lawyer’s request that contained information that you knew to be false even though you signed the declaration under the penalty of perjury.
  • You were a witness at a friend’s homicide trial where you knowingly and intentionally testified falsely while under oath, providing an alibi for your friend.
  • You are a notary public who authenticated a document you knew was forged under the penalty of perjury.
  • You are a defendant in a hit and run accident and during a deposition, you falsely testified under oath that when you approached the plaintiff’s car after the accident, you detected a strong smell of marijuana; you in fact knew that this was not the case.

What Elements Constitute The Crime And Penalty Of Perjury In California?

To prove perjury the prosecutor must prove that the defendant:

  • Swore to testify and tell the truth under penalty of perjury,
  • Deliberately declared their testimony to be true despite knowing it to be false.
  • Refused to provide details of a fact, deliberately omitted them, or presented inconsistent testimony.
  • The information provided was of a “material” nature.
  • Knew they were testifying under oath, and
  • Intended to make a false statement when they appeared in court.

It is important to specify that for the penalty of perjury in California to be constituted, the message must also be communicated.

For example, you fill out a job or other application form under oath with false information and then change your mind and do not submit it. In that case, you will not have committed perjury. Even if someone else filed it for you.

What Is A Material Fact?

It is necessary that the statement lead to a material fact. That is, it is of importance or generates consequences.

The law qualifies a fact as material when:

  • It is used to influence the outcome of the procedure performed, or
  • It was likely to influence that result.

However, in a trial it is not a prerequisite that the testimony necessarily influence the judicial process. Just as it is not established that the person had to know that his statement was material.

Under What Circumstances Could You Be Charged With Perjury?

A person can be prosecuted for perjury if they give false information by:

  • Testifying in court.
  • Being questioned by a competent authority.
  • A signed affidavit.
  • Any other official signed statement,
  • Applying for a driver’s license through the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) DL 44 form .
  • Signing a certificate.

What Is The Penalty For The Crime Of Perjury In California?

Perjury in the state is penalized as a felony with:

  • Imprisonment for one year in the county jail.
  • Imprisonment of two to four years in the state jail and/or
  • Maximum fine of $10,000.

At the judge’s discretion, the court may order an alternative measure of parole. Thus, the convicted person would not have to remain in prison while serving the sentence. source

The judge has discretion to issue the penalty how he sees fit based on the following factors:

  • Seriousness of your perjury,
  • Whether your perjury harmed another person.

The judge can issue any of the following penalties:

  • Felony probation
  • Imprisonment in county jail up to 1 year
  • Imprisonment in state prison for two, three or four years.

Suborning Perjury

Under California Penal Code Section 127 in addition to committing perjury a person can also be convicted for a “suborning perjury”. Suborning perjury means that the defendant intentionally persuaded, invited or coerced another person to commit perjury either in writing or verbally.




California Penal Code 118 PC defines the crime of perjury as when a person deliberately gives false testimony while under oath. A conviction is a felony punishable by probation, fines, and up to 4 years in jail or prison.

The language of the statute reads that:

118. (a) Every person who, having taken an oath that he or she will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly before any competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any of the cases in which the oath may by law of the State of California be administered, willfully and contrary to the oath, states as true any material matter which he or she knows to be false, and every person who testifies, declares, deposes, or certifies under penalty of perjury in any of the cases in which the testimony, declarations, depositions, or certification is permitted by law of the State of California under penalty of perjury and willfully states as true any material matter which he or she knows to be false, is guilty of perjury.

This subdivision is applicable whether the statement, or the testimony, declaration, deposition, or certification is made or subscribed within or without the State of California.

(b) No person shall be convicted of perjury where proof of falsity rests solely upon contradiction by testimony of a single person other than the defendant. Proof of falsity may be established by direct or indirect evidence.

Examples of perjury

  • lying about the identification of a suspect when testifying in a California criminal trial.
  • providing false information about a car accident in a deposition for a personal injury case.
  • giving false information on a material matter in a signed affidavit.


A defendant can challenge a penalty of perjury charge with a legal defense. Common defenses include showing that:

  • any falsehood was not intentional in nature
  • the subject matter was not “material”, and/or
  • the person was not actually under oath.


A violation of this statute is a felony.

  1. This table breaks down the 15 states with security camera laws and notes where video surveillance is allowed and under what circumstances.
  2. An oath is an affirmation or any other method authorized by law to affirm the truth of a statement. []
  3. Elements. Penal Code 118; CALCRIM No. 2640. []
  4. Could be in a form of testimony, declaration, deposition, or certification. []
  5. Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. CALCRIM No. 2640. []
  6. Information is material if it is probable that the information would influence the outcome of the proceedings, but it does not need to actually have an influence on the proceedings.  Knowledge of Materiality is not necessary. Penal Code Section 123. []
  7. Specific Intent to Testify Falsely Required.  People v. Viniegra (1982) 130 Cal.App.3d 577, 584 [181 Cal.Rptr. 848]; see also People v. Hagen (1998) 19 Cal.4th 652, 663–664 [80 Cal.Rptr.2d 24, 967 P.2d 563] [discussing intent requirement for perjury]. []
  8. Penal Code Section 124; People v. Griffıni (1998) 65 Cal.App.4th 581, 596 [76 Cal.Rptr.2d 590] [delivery requirement applies to “declaration”; discussing at length meaning of “deposition,” “declaration,” “certificate,” and “affidavit”]; Collins v. Superior Court (2001) 89 Cal.App.4th 1244, 1247 [108 Cal.Rptr.2d 123]People v. Post (2001) 94 Cal.App.4th 467, 480–481 [114 Cal.Rptr.2d 356]. []
  9. Good Faith Belief Statement True Negates Intent. People v. Von Tiedeman (1898) 120 Cal. 128, 134 [52 P. 155] [cited with approval in People v. Hagen (1998) 19 Cal.4th 652, 663–664 [80 Cal.Rptr.2d 24, 967 P.2d 563]]; People v. Louie (1984) 158 Cal.App.3d Supp. 28, 43 [205 Cal.Rptr. 247]. []
  10. People v. Baranov (1962) 201 Cal.App.2d 52, 60–61 [19 Cal.Rptr. 866]. []
  11. There must be some other evidence that the defendant’s statement was false that corroborates the testimony of the witness. People v. Di Giacomo (1961) 193 Cal.App.2d 688, 698 [14 Cal.Rptr. 574]; Penal Code Section 118(b).  This other evidence may be direct or indirect. []



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Page 2135 Calcrim  defines confidential communication as such:
[A confidential communication does not include a communication made in a public gathering or in any legislative, judicial, executive, or administrative proceeding open to the public, or in any other circumstance in which the parties to the communication may reasonably expect that the communication may be overheard or recorded.]

State Public places allowed Private places allowed Hidden cameras allowed Consent required
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Alabama Yes Yes No In private places
California* Yes Yes No No
Delaware Yes No With consent Yes
Florida Yes No Yes No
Georgia Yes Yes No No
Hawaii Yes Yes No Yes
Kansas Yes No With consent Yes
Maine Yes No With consent Yes
Michigan Yes With consent With consent Yes
Minnesota Yes No Yes No
New Hampshire Yes No With consent Yes
South Dakota Yes No With consent Yes
Tennessee Yes With consent With consent Yes
Utah Yes With consent With consent Yes



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