Penal Code 132 PC – Offering False Evidence - California Law

Penal Code 132 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to offer false written evidence in a legal proceeding. This is considered an obstruction of justice crime in California.

The code section states:

“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 felony.”

Examples:

  • presenting an altered will in a civil trial.
  • giving the police a fake receipt in a criminal investigation.
  • handing a lawyer a false contract that will be used as evidence in trial.

Defenses

A defendant can challenge an accusation under this statute with a legal defense. Common defenses include:

  • no knowledge,
  • no legal proceeding, and/or
  • entrapment.

Penalties

A violation under these laws is charged as a felony. This is opposed to a misdemeanor or an infraction.

The crime is punishable by:

Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

person signing a false document
PC 132 makes it a crime for a person to offer false written evidence in a legal proceeding.

1. When is it a crime to offer false evidence?

A prosecutor must prove the following facts to prove a 132 PC case:

  1. the defendant offered or presented false written evidence,
  2. in a legal proceeding, and
  3. the accused knew the evidence was false when he offered it.1

Note that this code section only applies to written evidence, like:

  • wills,
  • receipts,
  • contracts, and
  • records.2

Questions often arise under this statute on the meaning of:

  1. offer,
  2. legal proceeding, and
  3. knowing.

1.1. Offer

For purposes of this statute, a person offers evidence when:

  • he tries to present evidence,
  • to a jury or judge.

Note that California courts have even said a person can be guilty under PC 132 if:

  1. he gives false evidence to his attorney, and
  2. it is brought into the court process in ways other than actually being shown to a jury.3

1.2. Legal proceeding

A person is only guilty under these laws if he offers false evidence in a legal proceeding. This includes things like civil and criminal jury trials.

The term also includes:

  • court hearings,
  • administrative hearings,
  • investigations, and
  • legal inquiries.4

1.3. Knowing

An accused is only guilty under PC 132 if he knowingly presents false evidence.5

This means that he has to:

  1. know that evidence is false or forged, and
  2. offers it anyway.
attorney signing document
A defendant can beat a charge with a legal defense.

2. Are there legal defenses?

A defendant can beat a charge with a legal defense.

Three common defenses are:

  1. no knowledge,
  2. no legal proceeding, and/or
  3. entrapment.

2.1. No knowledge

Recall that a person is only guilty under this statute if he knowingly offers false evidence. This means it is a defense for an accused to say that he did not have this requisite knowledge. Perhaps, for example, someone else falsified evidence and the accused then presented it.

2.2. No legal proceeding

A defendant is only guilty under Penal Code 132 if he presents false evidence at a legal proceeding. Therefore, an accused can attempt to say that:

  • while he offered false evidence,
  • it was not in the course of a legal matter.

2.3. Entrapment

Police cannot lure suspects into committing a crime. This “luring” is known as entrapment. It applies to overbearing official conduct like pressure, harassment, fraud, or threats. Entrapment is an acceptable legal defense provided that the accused shows he only committed the crime because of the entrapment.

3. What are the penalties?

A violation of this statute is charged as a felony.

The crime is punishable by:

  • custody in state prison for up to three years, or
  • felony (or formal) probation.6

4. Are there immigration consequences?

A conviction of offering false evidence will have negative immigration consequences.

One California court has ruled that this offense involves moral turpitude.7

This is a problem because “crimes involving moral turpitude” can result in a non-citizen being either:

5. Can a person get a conviction expunged?

A person might be entitled to an expungement if convicted of this crime.

In general, defendants cannot get an expungement for a crime if they get sentenced to state prison.8 This means that a defendant could get an expungement here if:

  • he did not receive a term in state prison,
  • but was rather awarded felony probation and successfully completed it.

6. Does a conviction affect gun rights?

A conviction will cause a defendant to lose his gun rights.

California law says that convicted felons are prohibited from buying or owning a gun.

This means:

  • a conviction would erase a defendant's gun rights,
  • since offering false evidence is a felony offense.

7. Are there related offenses?

There are three crimes related to presenting false evidence. These are:

  1. preparing false evidence – PC 134,
  2. perjury – PC 118, and
  3. destroying or concealing evidence – PC 135.

7.1. Preparing false evidence – PC 134

Penal Code 134 PC makes it a crime for a person to prepare false evidence.

Note that this is a much broader crime than offering false evidence.

7.2. Perjury – PC 118

Per Penal Code 118 PC, perjury is a crime in California. It is defined as deliberately giving false information while under oath.

Note that while PC 132 pertains to written evidence, this crime involves actual testimony.

7.3. Destroying or concealing false evidence – PC 135

Penal Code 135 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to willfully destroy or hide any evidence in a legal proceeding.

“Legal proceeding” here has the same meaning as used within Penal Code 132.

For additional help...

california criminal defense attorneys
Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

For information on presenting false evidence charges in Nevada, please see our article on: “Nevada ‘Offering False Evidence' Laws (NRS 199.210).”


Legal References:

  1. California Penal Code 132 PC.

  2. See same.

  3. People v. Bhasin (2009) 176 Cal.App.4th 461.

  4. See People v. Pereira (1989) 207 Cal. App. 3d 1057.

  5. People v. Horowitz (1945), 70 Cal. App. 2d 675.

  6. California Penal Code 132 PC. See also California Penal Code 1170h.

  7. In re Jones (1971), 5 Cal. 3d 390.

  8. California Penal Code 1203.4 PC.

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