Getting arrested for DUI does not mean you will be convicted. Police misconduct, defective breathalyzers and crime lab mistakes may be enough to get your charges lessened or dismissed. Visit our page on Colorado DUI Laws to learn more.
"False swearing" in Colorado - Is it the same as perjury?
False swearing is a less serious Colorado offense than perjury. They both involve knowingly lying under oath. But perjury requires that the lie occur at an official proceeding or with the intention to mislead a public servant. False swearing is lying under oath in any other circumstance.
False swearing is just a class 1 petty offense, whereas a perjury law violation can be a felony or a misdemeanor.
First-degree perjury (CRS 18-8-502) occurs when a person knowingly makes a materially false statement at an official proceeding. Examples of official proceedings includes trial, depositions, grand jury proceedings, or other judicial proceedings.”1
Under Colorado law, a “materially false statement” is defined as:
A false assertion that affects the action, conduct, or decision of the person who receives or is intended to receive the asserted information in a manner that directly or indirectly benefits the person making the assertion.2
Materiality means that the lie must be intended to somehow affect the proceeding and benefit the person telling the lie. A material statement is different than minor untruths or misleading statements that do not affect or benefit anyone.
Note that people cannot claim their Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination right once they are on the witness stand. So people who fear they will give false testimony about a material fact should avoid testifying at all.
1st-degree perjury is a class 4 felony, carrying:
Second-degree perjury (CRS 18-8-503) occurs when a person knowingly makes a materially false statement in order to mislead a public servant in the performance of his/her duty. 3
Examples of second-degree perjury may include lying about looking for work on an unemployment application, or lying on an affidavit “under penalty of perjury” in an application for a professional license. These “material fabrications” could influence these state agencies to give the person benefits and employment despite being ineligible.
2nd-degree perjury is a class 1 misdemeanor, carrying:
Like the crime of perjury, the Colorado crime of false swearing is knowingly making a materially false statement under oath. But the context is different. There are no court or other official proceedings or public servants involved.
An example of false swearing could be giving false information on job applications to private businesses that require the applicant to “swear” that all the information they give is correct.
The penalty for perjury is much harsher than for false swearing. A class 1 petty offense, false swearing carries:
Yes. Convictions in first- or second-degree perjury cases may be sealed three (3) years after the case closes. And a conviction for false swearing may be sealed one (1) year after the case ends. Note that if the false swearing or perjury charges get dismissed, then there is no wait to pursue a Colorado criminal record seal.6
Arrested? Our criminal defense attorneys can fight to get the district attorney to reduce or dismiss your charges. We represent clients facing all types of criminal charges under the law, from traffic offenses, solicitation, and drug crimes to domestic violence, DUI, child abuse, and theft. We appear in state court (including the Colorado Supreme Court) and federal courts (United States district courts and appellate courts).
See our related article, tampering with physical evidence (CRS 18-8-610).
Michael Becker has over a quarter-century's worth of experience as an attorney and more than 100 trials under his belt. He is a sought-after legal commentator and is licensed to practice law in Colorado, Nevada, California, and Florida.
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