Being charged with Perjury in Adams, Weld, Arapahoe, or Jefferson County in Colorado is a very serious matter. Perjury in the first degree is a class 4 felony (C.R.S. 18-8-502), and is distinguished from perjury in the second degree (C.R.S. 18-8-503) by whether or not an intentionally false statement is made in an “official proceeding” or not. Perjury in the second degree is a class 1 misdemeanor. To complicate matters, Colorado perjury statutes also list the crime of “false swearing”, (C.R.S. 18-8-504). False swearing covers any situation where an official oath is made and the intentional false statement is not covered by the first or second degree perjury statutes. False Swearing is considered a class 1 petty offense.
I was recently drawn to an Associated Press article published in Denverpost.com on June 12, 2012, concerning Shellie Zimmerman, the wife of the now well-known George Zimmerman. Mr. Zimmerman stands accused of second-degree murder resulting from the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Ms. Zimmerman is faced with perjury charges for allegedly making false statements to a judge about their finances. The Zimmerman article made me think of how easy it is for people to be exposed to criminal charges in the normal course of a criminal proceeding, even if they are not the defendant. As I stated earlier, there are three kinds of perjury in Colorado and exposure to criminal charges can come from something as simple as signing a form which has a short oath on it.
Many times, promotion seeking prosecutors will overcharge a defendant by blurring the lines between statutes. The average person or an incompetent lawyer may not raise the proper defense for this crime. However, an experienced attorney will understand each of the elements that must be proven before someone can be found guilty of perjury. The difference between charging with the correct offense has big consequences. For instance, where an oath is administered (such as a formal proceeding or the Department of Motor Vehicles) can make the difference in being charged with a petty offense, a misdemeanor, or a felony. I have been successful in convincing prosecutors that charges should be reduced or dismissed.
If you or someone you know has been charged with perjury or false swearing in Denver, Arapahoe, El Paso, or any other county in Colorado, my advice is always the same, “be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and contact Our Attorneys at (303) 731-0719. Together we can protect your future”.