Updated: Jul 2, 2021
PC 127 Law
Information on the crime of subornation of perjury is found at California penal code section 127. According to PC 127, every person who willfully procures another person to commit perjury is guilty of subornation of perjury (PC 127 Abbrev.).
What is Subornation of perjury?
Essentially, subornation of perjury is the act of persuading or permitting another person to purposefully misrepresent the truth in an sworn affidavit or while under oath in a court of law.
For example, if a husband persuades his wife to misrepresent their income on their joint tax returns, which is a document that is signed under penalty of perjury as to the truthfulness of the statements contained in the document, then the husband is guilty of subornation of perjury. This is true even if the husband didn't actual sign the tax documents himself. The wife's misrepresents of the couples’ income is the crime of perjury.
Note: When a person attempts to persuade another person to commit perjury then the crime of attempted subornation of perjury is complete. This is true even if person the defendant was attempting to persuade to commit perjury does not actually commit that perjury.
For example, if a husband attempts to persuade his wife to misrepresent their income on their joint tax returns, but the wife is not persuaded by her husband’s efforts, then the husband is guilty of attempted subornation of perjury and his wife is not guilty of perjury.
Also, the person who commits subornation of perjury is not a co-defendant of the person who is persuaded to commit perjury. This is because subornation of perjury and perjury are two different crimes, not one crime committed by more than one person.
PC 127 Punishments
Note: The penalties for subornation of perjury are the same as those penalties related to perjury. Also, subornation of perjury is charged only as a felony in California.
Jail Sentence for PC 127
If the defendant is found guilty of subornation of perjury she could face up to two (2), three (3), or four (4) year in jail. Whether or not the defendant receives a 2, 3, or 4 year jail sentence after a conviction for PC 127 depends on many factors, including the defendant’s criminal history, the sophistication of the defendant’s criminal conduct, the terms of any negotiated plea bargain between the district attorney and the defendant, the loss to any victim (including government agencies if applicable), and more.
A probation sentence is a period of probation instead of a sentence to jail. A probation sentence, with or without some limited jail time, might be possible in a PC 127 case, but a probation sentence is not guaranteed. Whether or not the defendant is granted a probation sentence after a conviction for PC 127, as opposed to an actual jail sentence, depends on the defendant’s criminal history, the facts of the case, and the disposition of any plea bargain between the district attorney and the defendant.
A probation sentence in PC 127 cases is called felony probation (or formal probation). This means that the defendant is supervised by a probation officer. Also, the terms of felony probation includes restriction on the defendant’s travel, associations, and liberties.
Felony probation in PC 127 cases is usually for two years in San Bernardino County, but it may last longer is some cases, or where the defendant violates her probation conditions. For more information, see Violation of Probation.
Finally, probation sentences can carry an actual jail sentence as a term of probation; however, when a jail sentence is ordered as a term of probation, that jail sentence may usually, but not always, be served alternatively on work release or house arrest. Also, jail sentences that are ordered as a condition of probation, as opposed to a jail sentence ordered without a probation sentence, are usually much shorter than the minimum jail sentence allowed when the defendant is not granted a probation sentence.
For example, the defendant will serve at least two years in jail if she is not granted a probation sentence after a conviction for PC 127 (minimum incarceration without a probation sentence). On the other hand, if the defendant is granted a probation sentence after a conviction for PC 127, the judge will usually order the defendant to serve less than a year in jail. Also, that probation-related jail sentence may usually be served alternatively on work release.
PC 1170(h) Sentencing
Any conviction for subornation of perjury is subject to the provisions of PC 1170(h). In essence, this means that the defendant’s jail sentence is served in a local county jail, as opposed to a state prison. This is true even if the defendant is sentenced to more than a year in jail for any PC 127 violation.
Also, PC 1170(h) sentencing means that any jail sentence related to PC 127 may be split (served partially in jail and partially out of jail on work release), or suspended (not served unless the defendant violates a term of her out-of-jail sentence). For more information, see Penal Code 1170(h).
Three Strikes Law
The crime of subornation of perjury is not considered a violent or serious felony under California law as those terms are defined at PC 667.5(c) and 1192.7(c), respectively. This means that PC 127 is not considered a strike offense under California’s Three Strikes Sentencing Law.
CIMT & Suborning Perjury
Subornation of perjury is a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT). This means that the crime involves deceit or inherently wrongful conduct. Arrests and/or conviction(s) for crimes involving moral turpitude, including PC 127 violations, carry collateral negative consequences (penalties beyond the penalties associated with criminal court).
These penalties include possible immigration consequences for non-United States citizens, professional licensing consequences for licensed professionals (i.e. doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, etc.), military service consequences (i.e. discharge or denial of entry into Space Force, Army, Merchant Marines, Air Force, Navy, Marines & National Guard).
In addition to the penalties listed above, if the defendant is convicted of PC 127, she may suffer any of the following additional penalties: Court fines and fees, restitution, criminal protective orders, impeached testimony in subsequent court hearings, civil lawsuits, firearm prohibition, subsequent parole violations (or probation violations), denial of services that provide aid if the crime is related to that service, harsh probation terms, and more.
Common defenses related to subornation of perjury charges include: insufficient evidence to prove the defendant’s guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, insanity, marital privilege, duress, and more.
In a criminal case, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Beyond a reasonable doubt means that the juror has an abiding conviction that the criminal charge is true and that any doubt remaining as to the truth of that criminal charges is unreasonable to that juror.
This means that in PC 127 cases, the district attorney must prove, to a high degree of certainty, that the defendant encouraged or persuaded another person to commit perjury. This can be difficult for the DA to accomplish without multiple reliable witnesses that are available to testify against the defendant. Because of this fact, many subornation of perjury cases are dealt with through plea bargaining, as opposed to proceeding to trial.
Plea bargaining is not a true defense in the sense that the defendant’s case is dismissed without conditions; rather, plea bargaining is a defense in the sense that the penalties of a criminal charge can sometimes be greatly reduced without the defendant risking a jail sentence after possible conviction after a court or jury trial.
Note: Marital and spousal privilege is a set of defenses that prevent a spouse from being forced to testify against his or her spouse. This privilege is commonly used as a defense in subornation of perjury charges. However, marital and spousal privilege have limitations.
For example, a spouse may not be forced to testify against his or her spouse in a subornation of perjury case. On the other hand, if a spouse wants to testify against his or her spouse in a PC 127 case then the defendant cannot stop his or her spouse from testifying against him or her.
If the defendant either plead guilty (or no contest), or is found guilty after a trial, she may have a variety of post-conviction options, including, but not limited to: appeal the felony conviction, motion the court to reduce the sentence (PC 1170(d)), expunge the criminal conviction, seal and destroy the conviction (juvenile cases), motion the court for a certificate of rehabilitation and/or pardon, motion the court to modify probation terms, and more.
Note: If the defendant was arrested for PC 127, but she was either never formally charged by the district attorney, was formally charged by the district attorney but the criminal charges were later dropped, or she fought and won her case after trial (acquittal),, then she may seek to have her PC 127 arrest sealed and destroyed. For ore information, see Seal & Destroy a Criminal Arrest Record.
To learn more about the crime of subornation of perjury, or PC 127, contact our criminal defense lawyers today. There is not fee to discuss your case with you at an initial, in-office, consultation. Our criminal defense lawyers represent criminal defendants in all Inland Empire cities, including Chino, Redlands, San Bernardino, Fontana, and more. We can even visit local jails for consultations, like West Valley Detention Center and CDC Jail. Call today!