False Trial Testimony Can Be Considered As Evidence of Guilt

In People v. Amador (1970) 8 Cal.App.3d 788, the Court of Appeal held that false trial testimony can be considered as evidence of consciousness of guilt if the jury could conclude the testimony was intentionally false. the court explained: "Analytically there may be a difference between false statements to the police during the investigatory stage of a prosecution and false testimony from the stand. It has, however, been recognized authoritatively that under proper circumstances each type of falsehood may be considered as part of the prosecution's total case. Thus, for example, in People v. Foster (1953) 115 Cal.App.2d 866, it is clear that had the defendant Foster not attempted to manufacture a clumsy defense from the stand, his conviction would have been reversed for insufficiency of evidence. ... ' "Where a material fact is established by evidence and it is shown that a defendant's testimony as to that fact was willfully untrue, this circumstance not only furnishes a ground for disbelieving other testimony of this defendant, but also tends to show consciousness of guilt or liability on his part and has probative force in connection with other evidence on the issue of such guilt or liability ... ." It should be emphasized that no inference of consciousness of guilt can be drawn from the mere fact that the jury, in order to convict, must have disbelieved defendant's testimony; only where the false statement or testimony is intentional rather than merely mistaken and where such statement or testimony suggests that the defendant has no true exculpatory explanation can it be considered as an admission of guilt. Here defendant did not simply deny his guilt; he ventured upon an explanation so unusual that the triers of fact could conclude that it was an intentional fabrication indicating consciousness of guilt and the absence of any true exculpatory explanation.'" (People v. Amador, supra, 8 Cal.App.3d at pp. 791-792.)