Enhancing Criminal Defendant's Sentence Based Upon His Perjury at Trial

In People v. Howard (1993) 17 Cal.App.4th 999, the Court of Appeal held that a trial court may enhance a defendant's sentence based upon a finding that the defendant committed perjury at trial. The court also concluded that, in order to comport with due process notions, the court, to consider such a factor for sentencing purposes, must first find all the elements of perjury exist, i.e., a willful statement, concerning a material matter, which the witness knows to be false. ( Id. at p. 1004.) The Court of Appeal further found that although the trial court failed to make such a finding in that case, any error was harmless as the victim's testimony concerning the defendant's sexual assault, and the defendant's testimony the victim willingly performed the act, satisfied the elements of perjury because the jury found for the plaintiff, and the defendant's story was so contradictory that he could not have testified inaccurately based upon confusion, mistake or error in memory. ( Id. at pp. 1004-1005.)