What Are the Penalties for Lying in a Colorado Family Court?

What Are the Penalties for Lying in a Colorado Family Court?

There are indeed consequences for lying in family court. Sometimes people get an attitude that a child custody hearing or a divorce deposition isn’t a “real” court because it’s not a criminal court. Please don’t make that mistake. An oath is an oath, regardless of which court or legal proceeding you are involved in. Lying about your income, your relationship with your child, or incidents during your marriage are all punishable offenses. 

This is one reason why you need the guidance of a family law attorney if you need to give testimony under oath as part of your case. 

What Is Perjury?

Lying when under oath is a crime called “perjury.” A witness commits perjury when they intentionally and knowingly give false information about a material matter. The exact definition of perjury in any specific jurisdiction varies, but the concept is the same. In Colorado, perjury is defined as “fabricating or stating false information while under oath.” Stating false information is considered perjury if it occurs in a legal proceeding, court hearing, deposition, a written legal document, or any time someone is under oath. 

The Penalty for Perjury in Colorado

Perjury can be a class 4 felony or a petty offense depending on the exact situation. Here is how the state of Colorado breaks down the seriousness of an act of perjury.

First Degree Perjury – If someone knowingly makes a false statement, i.e., a statement which they do not believe to be factual, in an official proceeding, that is considered to be perjury in the first degree. Under Colorado law, perjury in the first degree is punishable. Two to six years in prison and a fine between $2,000-$500,000. 

Second Degree Perjury – If someone knowingly makes a false statement under oath for the purpose of misleading a government employee/public servant while performing their job duties, it is considered to be perjury in the second degree. This offense is punishable by a fine of up to $750 and/or up to 120 days in county jail.

The Elements of First Degree Perjury in Colorado

To determine whether perjury in the first degree has been committed, the court looks for these four factors:

  • The person was under oath.
  • The person made a knowingly untrue statement.
  • The person that made the false statement did so with criminal intent. Meaning that it was done on purpose with the motive of reducing a penalty or shifting blame away from them.
  • The testimony was important to the legal issue at hand (For example, lying to say you were watching the movie Clueless instead of watching pornography when you overheard the gunshots that killed the victim is not a “material” or important detail relating to the crime in question. That lie would not be considered perjury.)

CNL Law Is a Colorado Family Law Firm That Can Help You Prove Perjury

CNL Law has worked on perjury cases relating to Colorado family law. If you know your ex-spouse or another material witness lied under oath and you can prove it, please contact us today. We can help!

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