As Denver Criminal Defense attorneys, we have seen Perjury charges arise in two classes: first, false statements while testifying in court; and second, affirming or stating something in writing on a government form, such as a voter registration. Depending on the severity of the Perjury, a person will be charged with either a felony or misdemeanor crime.
Felony First Degree Perjury and Perjury in the First Degree
Located at 18-8-502, this felony offense occurs in Jefferson and Adams County when a person ignores an oath to tell the truth, and makes a “materially false statement”. Interestingly, the government also has to prove that the person making the statement does not believe the statement is true. This presents a difficult burden for the district attorney prosecuting the 1st Degree Perjury charge. The People of the State of Colorado must have additional evidence to prove to the jury what was going on inside the head of the person making the statement. We would normally see these charges arise from false testimony during a jury trial. The government becomes upset that the testimony did not go their way. They then search for previous occasions where the witness stated something contrary to their in-court testimony, such as in a statement to the police before trial.
Second Degree Perjury or Perjury in the Second Degree
2nd Degree Perjury, at C.R.S.18-8-503, is a lot like First Degree Perjury, except for the “official proceeding”. This crime requires promising to tell the truth, with the intent to mislead a government employee in the performance of their duty, by making a materially false statement. Fortunately for the accused, again the government must prove that the person making the statement does not believe it to be true. There is also a requirement for a written or oral oath. We commonly see this crime charged in Douglas and Elbert County when someone has been receiving unemployment insurance payments, and lies concerning their income or other eligibility requirements. This Perjury charge is a class one misdemeanor, punished by up to eighteen months in the Douglas County Jail.
Perjury by False Swearing – the Least Serious Perjury Charge
The least of the Perjury crimes is called False Swearing, C.R.S. 18-8-504. It occurs when a false statement or affirmation is made under oath, and the oath or false statement is not covered by Perjury in the Second Degree or Perjury in the First Degree. This Petty Offense is sort of designed to cover anything which might not be covered by the two crimes listed above. Read more about the types of Perjury.
Lying to a government official involves a high level of risk to your future. A felony, misdemeanor or petty Perjury conviction can make you look like a liar to future employers, security screeners or even potential creditors. Don’t let one mistake change your future employment prospects. Get an attorney who knows criminal law well to advise you.
There are defenses to Perjury charges. Never speak with Police or detectives about your case. They are not trying to help you. They act nice and polite so you will let your guard down and reveal damaging evidence. Admissions made by you are always admissible at a jury trial. The best practice is to remain silent and call us as soon as you are approached by police. Calling us can make a huge difference in your criminal case. We offer a free initial consultation where you can learn a lot about your charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are available to speak personally with you by calling 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.