Witness 8 (Dee Dee) did not commit perjury

March 9, 2013

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Good morning:

Today, we are going to take a tour of the Florida perjury statutes to clear up any lingering confusion caused by the troll yesterday regarding the law and its possible application to DD.

EDIT: H/T to Fauxmccoy for her excellent discussion of this issue last night in an effort to educate a willfully dumb troll whom I subsequently banned for derailing discussion. As the owner of the blog, I decided that I had an obligation to step in as an authority on the subject to clean-up the mess created by the troll, even though her ladyship did a mighty fine job of that herself.

Keep in mind that I believe the evidence will show that she did not lie about anything, much less commit perjury and I believe the U.S. media has been grossly irresponsible in reporting that she did. Nevertheless, the false accusation has been made and I am going to hopefully refute and bury it forever.

Introduction

Keep in mind that all federal and state crimes are defined by statutes passed by both houses of a bicameral legislature and signed into law by an executive (president or governor). They are enacted pursuant to the police power granted to the legislative body by the federal or state constitution.

Federal courts have jurisdiction to decide cases involving violations of federal offenses and state courts have jurisdiction to decide cases involving violations of state offenses.

All criminal statutes consist of elements that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to convict a defendant. The elements consist of a particular state of mind (mens rea) and a prohibited act (actus reus).

The Florida perjury statute sets forth two general categories of offenses: perjury and false statements. Perjury is the more serious offense because it consists of the base offense (a false statement) with additional elements (oath and subject matter materiality).

Perjury is subdivided into 3 categories: perjury in official proceedings, perjury not in official proceedings and perjury by contradicting statements.

The false statements category also is subdivided into 3 categories: false reports to law enforcement authorities, false information to law enforcement during an investigation, and false official statements.

Notice that the basis for distinguishing these false-statement offenses from ordinary everyday lying is the element of the offense that specifies to whom the lie is communicated.

That is, mere lying is not a criminal offense.

Now, let us take a look at each of the offenses beginning with the false statements that define the boundary between lies without criminal consequences and lies with criminal consequences.

False Statements

False reports to law enforcement authorities (FL. Stat. 837.05)

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), whoever knowingly gives false information to any law enforcement officer concerning the alleged commission of any crime, commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(2) Whoever knowingly gives false information to a law enforcement officer concerning the alleged commission of a capital felony, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

This offense consists of knowingly providing false information to a law enforcement officer concerning the alleged commission of any crime. This conduct is defined as a first degree misdemeanor, unless the crime in question is a death penalty offense, in which case the offense is a third degree felony. No crime is committed if the false information is provided to someone who is not a law enforcement officer.

Note that even if DD lied to BDLR about going to the “hospital or someplace” and he qualifies as a law enforcement officer, the false statement did not concern the alleged commission of a crime. Therefore, she did not violate this offense.

False information to law enforcement during investigation. (FL. Stat. 837.055)

(1) Whoever knowingly and willfully gives false information to a law enforcement officer who is conducting a missing person investigation or a felony criminal investigation with the intent to mislead the officer or impede the investigation commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(2) Whoever knowingly and willfully gives false information to a law enforcement officer who is conducting a missing person investigation involving a child 16 years of age or younger with the intent to mislead the officer or impede the investigation, and the child who is the subject of the investigation suffers great bodily harm, permanent disability, permanent disfigurement, or death, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

This offense is more specific because it contains additional elements that must be proven. The prosecution not only has to prove that the speaker knew the information was false, it has to prove that the speaker acted willfully. It also has to prove that the law enforcement officer was conducting a missing person investigation or a felony criminal investigation, and the speaker provided the false information with the intent to mislead the officer or impede the investigation.

The distinction between the misdemeanor and the felony version of this offense is that the felony adds two elements; namely, the missing person must be a child 16 years of age or younger and the child suffered great bodily harm, permanent disability, permanent disfigurement, or death.

DD did not violate this statute because it is about a missing person investigation.

False official statements. (FL. Stat. 837.06)

Whoever knowingly makes a false statement in writing with the intent to mislead a public servant in the performance of his or her official duty shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

Here we see that the foundational requirement of the false-statements offenses (i.e., to prove that the defendant knowingly communicated false information to a law enforcement officer) requires additional proof that the communication is in writing with the intent to mislead a public servant in the performance of his or her official duty.

DD did not provide a written statement so she did not violate this statute.

Now, let us move on to the perjury offenses.

Perjury

Perjury in official proceedings. (FL Stat. 837.02)

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), whoever makes a false statement, which he or she does not believe to be true, under oath in an official proceeding in regard to any material matter, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(2) Whoever makes a false statement, which he or she does not believe to be true, under oath in an official proceeding that relates to the prosecution of a capital felony, commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(3) Knowledge of the materiality of the statement is not an element of the crime of perjury under subsection (1) or subsection (2), and the defendant’s mistaken belief that the statement was not material is not a defense.

This statute requires the prosecution to prove that the defendant made a false statement under oath in an official proceeding regarding a material matter while believing that the statement was not true.

Note that while the false statement must be about a material matter, the prosecution does not have to prove that the defendant knew that the statement was about a material matter. Put another way, lack of knowledge that the statement was about a material matter or a mistaken belief that it was not about about a material matter is not a defense. This is where yesterday’s troll got lost in the woods, never to be seen or heard from again.

A material matter is defined as “any subject, regardless of its admissibility under the rules of evidence, which could affect the course or outcome of the proceeding. Whether a matter is material in a given factual situation is a question of law.” 837.011(3) This means that the subject matter of the false statement can be material even if it is not admissible. Put another way, materiality does not depend on admissibility.

As I said in my post about DD’s statement under oath to BDLR, even if we assume that she lied about going to “the hospital or someplace,” the subject matter of her statement was not material because whether she went to the hospital “could not affect the course or outcome of the trial.” As such, it is a collateral matter.

An Official proceeding is defined as “a proceeding heard, or which may be or is required to be heard, before any legislative, judicial, administrative, or other governmental agency or official authorized to take evidence under oath, including any referee, general or special magistrate, administrative law judge, hearing officer, hearing examiner, commissioner, notary, or other person taking testimony or a deposition in connection with any such proceeding.” 837.011(1)

BDLR’s interview of DD also did not qualify as an “official proceeding.” Therefore, DD did not violate this statute, even if she lied under oath about going to “the hospital or someplace.”

Perjury when not in an official proceeding. (FL Stat. 837.012)

(1) Whoever makes a false statement, which he or she does not believe to be true, under oath, not in an official proceeding, in regard to any material matter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(2) Knowledge of the materiality of the statement is not an element of this crime, and the defendant’s mistaken belief that his or her statement was not material is not a defense.

Proof of this offense eliminates the official-proceeding element while retaining the materiality element.

Therefore, DD did not violate this statute either.

Perjury by contradictory statements. (FL Stat. 837.021)

Note: This is not applicable. I provided it FYI, so you can skip down to the conclusion or read it according to your wishes.

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), whoever, in one or more official proceedings, willfully makes two or more material statements under oath which contradict each other, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(2) Whoever, in one or more official proceedings that relate to the prosecution of a capital felony, willfully makes two or more material statements under oath which contradict each other, commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(3) In any prosecution for perjury under this section:

(a) The prosecution may proceed in a single count by setting forth the willful making of contradictory statements under oath and alleging in the alternative that one or more of them are false.

(b) The question of whether a statement was material is a question of law to be determined by the court.

(c) It is not necessary to prove which, if any, of the contradictory statements is not true.

(d) It is a defense that the accused believed each statement to be true at the time the statement was made.

(4) A person may not be prosecuted under this section for making contradictory statements in separate proceedings if the contradictory statement made in the most recent proceeding was made under a grant of immunity under s. 914.04; but such person may be prosecuted under s. 837.02 for any false statement made in that most recent proceeding, and the contradictory statements may be received against him or her upon any criminal investigation or proceeding for such perjury.

I included this section about multiple contradictory statements FYI, although it is not relevant at this time.

Conclusion

DD did not violate any of these statutes, even if she lied to BDLR about going to “the hospital or someplace,” instead of going to the funeral or wake.

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