There are a lot of crimes covered by this topic. Let’s start with the Revised Penal Code Provisions on the matter:
Art. 180. False testimony against a defendant. — Any person who shall give false testimony against the defendant in any criminal case shall suffer:
1. The penalty of reclusion temporal, if the defendant in said case shall have been sentenced to death;
2. The penalty of prision mayor, if the defendant shall have been sentenced to reclusion
temporal or reclusion perpetua;
3. The penalty of prision correccional, if the defendant shall have been sentenced to any other afflictive penalty; and
4. The penalty of arresto mayor, if the defendant shall have been sentenced to a correctional penalty or a fine, or shall have been acquitted.
In cases provided in subdivisions 3 and 4 of this article the offender shall further suffer a fine not to exceed 1,000 pesos.
Art. 181. False testimony favorable to the defendants. — Any person who shall give false testimony in favor of the defendant in a criminal case, shall suffer the penalties of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period a fine not to exceed 1,000 pesos, if the prosecution is for a felony punishable by an afflictive penalty, and the penalty of arresto mayor in any other case.
Art. 182. False testimony in civil cases. — Any person found guilty of false testimony in a civil case shall suffer the penalty of prision correccional in its minimum period and a fine not to exceed 6,000 pesos, if the amount in controversy shall exceed 5,000 pesos, and the penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period and a fine not to exceed 1,000 pesos, if the amount in controversy shall not exceed said amount or cannot be estimated.
Art. 183. False testimony in other cases and perjury in solemn affirmation. — The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon any person, who knowingly makes untruthful statements and not being included in the provisions of the next preceding articles, shall testify under oath, or make an affidavit, upon any material matter before a competent person authorized to administer an oath in cases in which the law so requires.
Any person who, in case of a solemn affirmation made in lieu of an oath, shall commit any of the falsehoods mentioned in this and the three preceding articles of this section, shall suffer the respective penalties provided therein.
Art. 184. Offering false testimony in evidence. — Any person who shall knowingly offer in evidence a false witness or testimony in any judicial or official proceeding, shall be punished as guilty of false testimony and shall suffer the respective penalties provided in this section.
So what are crimes under false testimony?
1. False testimony against a defendant (more accurately an accused)
2. False testimony favorable to a defendant (again more accurately, an accused)
3. False testimony in civil cases
4. False testimony in other cases
6. Offering false testimony in evidence (for us lawyers)
So as you can see, the penalties for false testimony are dependent on (1) the sentence on the accused and (2) where the false testimony was used and (3) whether the testimony is for or against an accused (or defendant, in civil cases).
Can you please give examples of each?
1. In a rape case, Victim X falsely testifies against Accused Y. If Y is sentenced to death, X gets the penalty.
2. In the murder case, Witness W falsely gives Accused Z an alibi. Witness W is likewise liable for false testimony.
3. In a collection case filed in court, collector F falsely testifies that E borrowed money from him. F is liable for false testimony.
4. In an administrative case, witness A falsely testifies that respondent B was guilty of misconduct. A is liable for false testimony.
5. For any other purpose, character JA executes an false affidavit on a material matter against a bishop O. JA is likewise liable for perjury.
6. Finally, if lawyer P knowingly offers (or uses) such false testimony in court or any other body, he suffers the same fate as the one who actually makes such false testimony.
What are the essential elements in all these cases?
For a person to be liable, the testimony must be under oath, sworn to or notarized (in the case of perjury).
The term perjury is actually limited to affidavits and sworn statements but in common parlance has also covered false testimony. It just sounds “cooler” to call them all perjury….
Also, it does not matter if the court or body considers such false testimony or perjury in deciding the case.
Finally, the one giving such false testimony or perjurious statement know that it is false and hence, motivated by malicious motives.
What is reclusion temporal?
No, it does not mean you will be a temporary recluse, it is a prison sentence from twelve years and one day to twenty years, along with the accessory penalties that goes with it.
What is prision mayor?
No, it does not mean you will be sent to a major prison, it is a prison sentence from six years and one day to twelve years, again with the accessory penalties.
What is prision correccional?
No, it does not mean you will be sent to the correctional, it is a prison sentence from six months and one day to six years, again with the accessory penalties. Although I think you really do serve this in a correctional facility.
What is subornation of perjury?
It is procuring (by induction or even money) another to swear and testify falsely against another. While it is not exactly defined under our penal code, the one that does this is nevertheless punished the same manner as a principal by inducement.
Anything else you want to add?
I will probably tackle how to prove false testimony in another lecture…