Accusations of domestic violence in any California divorce can have a detrimental impact on the outcome for the accused. For this reason, California courts treat allegations extremely seriously and investigate each claim in depth before making any final determinations. If a court discovers that a person falsely accused another of the crime, it may charge the person who made the false allegations with perjury.
According to the Judicial Branch of California, a judge cannot grant custody, either joint or sole, to a parent who has committed domestic violence. The most an offender can hope for is visitation time. A presiding judge will treat any case as a domestic violence case if evidence shows that the domestic violence occurred within the previous five years, that the courts made a conviction and that a parent or child was the subject of abuse.
According to the court’s website, a judge can, however, grant joint or sole custody to a previous offender who has met all of the court’s rehabilitative requirements. Those include completing a 52-week batterer intervention program, successfully completing substance abuse and parenting classes and complying with all the terms of a restraining order, amongst other requirements.
As the court’s site indicates, domestic violence allegations can result in dire consequences for the accused parent and make it difficult if not impossible for him or her to obtain custody of the child. To protect parents’ rights, courts may punish false allegations with charges of perjury.
According to FindLaw, perjury occurs when a person makes a false statement while under oath, or in a context for which the court may subpoena testimony, such as an affidavit, sworn statement or trial testimony. A perjury conviction may result in a felony sentencing of two, three or as many as four years.
The courts do provide room for error and require that for a false statement to be considered perjury, the accuser must have made the allegations with intent. Intent means that the person knew the statement to be false but presented it as true regardless.