Penal Code 132 | Offering False Evidence Explained

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Definition of Offering False Evidence

Every person who upon any trial, proceeding, inquiry, or investigation whatever, authorized or permitted by law, offers in evidence, as genuine or true, any book, paper, document, record, or other instrument in writing, knowing the same to have been forged or fraudulently altered or ante-dated, is guilty of a felony.

Under California Penal Code section 132, offering false evidence entails knowingly presenting false written evidence as if it were true or real in any legal proceeding and/or upon any inquiry authorized by law.

How Does The Prosecutor Prove You Offered False Evidence?

To prove someone offered false evidence, the prosecutor has to prove the following facts or elements:1

(a)   Offering or presenting false written evidence2

(b)  In a proceeding authorized by law3

(c)   With knowledge that the evidence is false4

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Examples of False WrittenEvidence

  • Offering a letter as evidence in traffic court that you know contains a forged signature.
  • Offering as evidence in traffic court your speeding ticket that you know has an altered date/time or altered license plate number.
  • Offering as evidence in probate court a will that you have altered to increase the amount of gift to yourself.
  • Offering to the DMV a fake pink slip that you paid someone to create to prove ownership of a vehicle that does not lawfully belong to you.

Who Can Be Charged With The Offense of Offering False Evidence?

Only a person who has knowledge that the evidence was false and offered it anyway can be charged with the offense.  You cannot be charged with the offense if you mistakenly offered the false evidence because you thought it was in fact true and correct.

For example, during Bob’s trial, Bob, a big rig driver, gave his attorney a copy of the big rig inspection report that the truck owner provided to him.  Unbeknownst to Bob, the owner fakes all his reports because his big rigs cannot pass the inspection.  Bob could not be charged under this offense, because he did not know that the report was false.

Legal Defenses For a Charge of Offering False Evidence

Mistake of fact:  If you were reasonably mistaken about some fact that lead you to believe that the evidence was in fact true, your mistaken belief could be a viable defense to this charge because it shows that you had no knowledge of the falsity of the evidence.5

What Are The Penalties, Punishment And Sentencing Guidelines For A Charge Of Offering False Evidence?

A charge of offering false evidence is a felony.  If you are convicted, the judge can issue a sentence of imprisonment for up to three years in state prison.

How We Can Help

If you have questions about offering false evidence charges contact the Aizman law firm for a free consultation at 818-351-9555.

Request A Free Consultation 818-351-9555 

Footnotes

  1. See Penal Code 132: Elements of the offense listed []
  2. “Offering” false evidence does not just mean directly offering evidence to be introduced in a court of law; rather, it may also include more indirect actions such as giving your attorney a false document that you know will be attached to a document that the attorney plans to file with the court []
  3. See California Penal Code 132: “Proceeding” defined broadly.  The proceeding does not have to be a trial.  It can be any legal proceeding, including a traffic court hearing, or any other hearing or proceeding that is authorized by California law []
  4. See Pen. Code § 7.  “Knowingly” defined.  The word “knowingly” imports only a knowledge that the facts exist which bring the act or omission within the provisions of this code. It does not require any knowledge of the unlawfulness of such act or omission.  In this case, knowingly means that you knew that the evidence is false and offered it anyway. It does not mean that you knew that the act of offering false evidence is unlawful []
  5. Penal Code, section 132: Requirement that the offering of false evidence be done with knowledge of its falsity []

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