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What is Colorado's statute of limitations for perjury?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Aug 31, 2019 | 0 Comments

The statute of limitations for the Colorado crime of perjury (C.R.S. 18-8-502, 18-8-503, 18-8-504 & 18-5-901) depends upon the type of offense: It is three years for first-degree perjury, eighteen months for second-degree perjury, and six months for false swearing.

Type of Colorado perjury charge

Statute of Limitations to bring a criminal prosecution in Colorado

First-degree (class 4 felony)

3 years after the discovery of the false statement

Second-degree (class 1 misdemeanor)

18 months after the discovery of the false statement

False swearing (class 1 petty offense)

6 months after the discovery of the false statement

Note that the statute of limitations does not necessarily begin to run when the false statement is actually uttered or written. Instead, the statute of limitations tolls (pauses) until the statements at issue are discovered to be false. This could potentially be years after the original statement was made.

First-degree perjury in Colorado (C.R.S. 18-8-502)

Perjury in the first degree occurs when a person knowingly makes a materially false statement which he/she does not believe to be true in an official proceeding. The classic example is a person lying under oath while on the witness stand.

For a statement to be "materially false," it must be in fact inaccurate, not merely vague or misleading. People who lie in any of the following settings are vulnerable to perjury charges:

  • jury or bench trials
  • depositions
  • answering interrogatories
  • affidavits
  • certificates
  • declarations
  • any government document

As a class 4 felony in Colorado, 1st-degree perjury carries two to six (2 - 6) years in Colorado State Prison and/or a fine of $2,000 to half a million dollars.

The statute of limitations for Colorado prosecutors to file first-degree perjury charges is three (3) years after the perjury is discovered.

Second-degree perjury in Colorado (C.R.S. 18-8-503)

Perjury in the second degree occurs when a person knowingly makes a materially false statement with an intent to mislead a public servant in the performance of his/her duty, under an oath required or authorized by law.

The classic example is lying on an application for public assistance, which requires the applicants to sign a statement that says something along the lines of, "I swear all the information on this form is correct." Certainly, a person who mistakenly or accidentally puts down false information should not be held criminally liable.

As a class 1 misdemeanor in Colorado, 2nd-degree perjury carries six to eighteen (6 - 18) months in a county jail and/or a fine of $500 to $5,000.

The statute of limitations for Colorado prosecutors to file second-degree perjury charges is eighteen (18) months after the perjury is discovered.

False swearing in Colorado (C.R.S. 18-8-504)

False swearing occurs when a person intentionally makes a materially false statement under oath or as authorized by law in situations that do not qualify as first- or second-degree perjury.

As a class 1 petty offense, false swearing carries up to six (6) months in jail and/or up to $500 in fines.

The statute of limitations for Colorado prosecutors to file false swearing charges is six (6) months after the perjury is discovered.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.

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