Prosecuting the crime of false testimony

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
What is the penalty for a person who knowingly gives a false testimony against the accused in a criminal case?
Cecilia

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Dear Cecilia,
The crime of false testimony is committed by a person who, being under oath and required to testify as to the truth of a certain matter at a hearing before a competent authority, shall deny the truth or say something contrary to it (Luis B. Reyes,The Revised Penal Code Book Two (13th Ed.), p. 235). There are three kinds of false testimony: 1) false testimony in criminal cases (Articles 180 and 181, Revised Penal Code); 2) false testimony in civil cases (Article 182, Ibid.); and 3) false testimony in other cases (Article 183, Id.).

To successfully prosecute a person for the crime of false testimony, the following elements shall be proved: 1) there is a criminal proceeding; 2) the offender testifies falsely under oath against the defendant therein; 3) the offender who gives a false testimony knows that it is false; and 4) the defendant against whom the false testimony is given is either acquitted or convicted in a final judgment. The penalty for false testimony against a defendant in a criminal case shall depend on the sentence meted out to the defendant against whom the false testimony was given. These are provided under Article 180 of the Revised Penal Code, to wit:

Article 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 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.

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts that you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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