Colorado Perjury Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of attorney writers and editors.

Making a false statement or lying under oath can get you into a lot of trouble with the law. You can be charged with perjury, which is a very serious crime against justice. Perjury is considered especially offensive because the offender has a disregard for facts which can threaten the very integrity of the legal system.

Despite the similarity in perjury laws across the country, each jurisdiction addresses the crime differently. Colorado recognizes only two forms of perjury: perjury in the first degree and perjury in the second degree. The state also criminalizes "false swearing," a similar but lesser charge.

Colorado Perjury Laws Overview

Although Colorado's statutes addressing perjury aren't as lengthy or complex as statutes in other states, it's still useful to unpack the law further using simple, everyday terms. Read on for an overview of Colorado's perjury laws.

Statutes

Colorado Revised Statutes:

  • Section 18-8-502 (Perjury in the First Degree)
  • Section 18-8-503 (Perjury in the Second Degree)
  • Section 18-8-504 (False Swearing)

 

Elements of the Crime

 

Perjury in the First Degree:

A person commits this crime by knowingly making a materially false statement, not believing it to be true while under oath or authorized by law.

Note: Knowledge of the materiality of the statement is not an element of the crime.

Perjury in the Second Degree:

A person commits this crime by making a materially false statement with the intent to mislead a public servant in performance of their duties, not believing it to be true while under oath or authorized by law.

False Swearing:

A person commits this crime by intentionally making a materially false statement (not under the circumstances for the first and second-degree perjury laws), not believing it to be true while under oath or authorized by law.

Possible Penalties and Sentencing

First Degree: Class 4 felony, punishable by a maximum prison sentence of 6 years, fines up to $500,000.

Second Degree: Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 18 months in county jail, fines up to $5,000.

False Swearing: Class 1 petty offense, punishable by up to 6 months in county jail, fines up to $500.

Possible Defenses

  • Mistake of fact
  • The statement was not false.
  • The statement was an opinion.
  • Defendant believed that the statement was true.
  • The statement wasn't about a material issue.

Note: While the Defendant's mistaken belief that the statement wasn't material is not a defense, it may be considered by the court in imposing sentences.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Colorado Perjury Laws: Related Resources

If You're Facing Perjury Charges in Colorado, Contact a Criminal Attorney

If you stand accused of violating Colorado's perjury laws for committing a false swearing or perjury, you don't want to defend yourself without the guidance of a skilled advocate at your side who understands the nuances of the law. Use FindLaw's attorney directory to find an experienced criminal defense attorney located near you.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.