Subornation of Perjury – Penal Code Section 127
The crime of subornation of perjury occurs whenever a person solicits someone else to commit perjury. A person commits perjury when he knowingly and intentionally lies about a material fact in any legal proceeding.1
Elements of the Offense:
To prove the crime of subornation of perjury, the prosecutor must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant willfully solicited another person to give false testimony or supply a false affidavit in a legal proceeding.2
Possible defenses to the crime of subornation of perjury may include:
A. Lack of Intent: Defense counsel should use all available facts to challenge any assertion that the defendant knowingly tried to procure a false statement.
B. Lack of Corroboration: The prosecution must corroborate the defendant’s attempt to solicit the false statement through someone other than the person who actually gave the false testimony or affidavit.3
The crime of subornation of perjury is a straight felony. It can never be reduced to a misdemeanor. The defendant will be punished by a grant of felony probation and up to 364 days in jail, or a felony jail sentence (local prison) of 2, 3 or 4 years. 4
The crime of subornation of perjury can sometimes be very difficult to prove because the best person to provide evidence (the perjurer) has a motive to fabricate. If you are accused of suborning perjury, you should consult a qualified criminal defense attorney immediately. Your attorney will evaluate whether the prosecutor has sufficient corroboration to prove the government’s case. Complex rules of corroboration can sometimes prove fatal to the prosecutor’s case.
In the author’s experience, any individual suspected of suborning perjury will have their email and electronic communication accounts targeted by law enforcement. Detectives will seek search warrants for email, cell phone records, financial records and any other relevant item of evidence to corroborate any claim that you solicited someone to suborn perjury.
In an effort to corroborate an accusation that you suborned perjury, detectives will often ask the person who provided a false statement in a trial or affidavit (the perjurer) to place a recorded call (cool call), or wear an electronic recording device (wire) when speaking to you. If that technique fails to work, a police detective will attempt to initiate a seemingly low-key conversation with you in an attempt to get you to admit anything that can be used to corroborate an allegation that you suborned perjury. 5 If you are ever approached by a police officer, always respectfully decline to give a statement and notify the law enforcement agent that you would like to speak to an attorney.
Ventura County prosecutors will move harshly against anyone suspected of suborning perjury. They will argue to the court that the crime strikes at the heart of the justice system. If you are facing a subornation case in Ventura County, take the matter seriously and hire the best lawyer you can afford as soon as possible.
About the Author:
Bill Haney is a former supervising prosecutor in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office. Mr. Haney is extremely familiar with the legal and factual issues underlying any perjury accusation. He will outline a defense at your initial consultation that is designed to give you the best possible chance for a successful outcome in court.
(1)See Penal Code Section 118(a) and 118a.
(2)People v. Jones (1967) 254 Cal.App.2d 200.
(3)People v Jones (1967) 254 Cal.App.2d 200.
(4)Penal Code Section 127 affords the same punishment for subornation of perjury as perjury itself. Defendants convicted of this charge are eligible for felony jail (local prison) sentences rather than confinement in state prison. Penal Code Section 1170(h).
(5)By approaching you in a low-key manner, the detective is trying to avoid a later argument that you were in “custody.” If you are deemed to be “in custody,” i.e., in a position that a reasonable person would not feel free to leave – he has to read you your Miranda rights.