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During a traffic court trial, a police officer's testimony contradicts dashcam video and leads to a guilty verdict.

Can the officer be charged with perjury? Who charges the officer with perjury? How do you start the process?

The dashcam video was reviewed by defense after the trial.

Background:

  • Defense sent multiple discovery requests through website.
  • The prosecutor did not receive discovery requests.
  • The court did not adjourn when notified of failed discovery request during trial.
  • The officer's testimony contradicted defense's recollection of events.
  • The prosecutor did not present dashcam video during trial.
  • The prosecutor likely did not review dashcam video.
  • The officer testified that the officer did not review the dashcam video.
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You do not charge perjury. Perjury is a criminal offense, and criminal offenses are generally charged and prosecuted by the state. At most, you can report the alleged offense, and it will be up to officials of the state (probably the district attorney) to decide whether to prosecute.

You might make a report to the district attorney directly, or to an internal affairs division of the officer's police department.

Note that, in order to convict, the prosecutor would have to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officer's testimony was false, that the officer knew it was false, and that the statement was material to the case (i.e. was important enough to matter). In deciding whether to prosecute, they would have to consider whether they think they could convince a jury, whether the prosecution is in the interests of justice, and whether it's a good use of their limited resources, among other considerations.

2

Based on the question, this was not perjury; if the officer did not review the footage, the fact that his testimony was in error indicates a mistake, nothing more. To even consider a perjury charge, the prosecuting authorities would need evidence that the officer knew the testimony was wrong when he gave it.

You do not indicate the jurisdiction, so nobody can say whether an appeal would lie (since new evidence has come to light), whether the conviction could be quashed for procedural failure (if multiple requests for evidence were really not received) or whether a complaint could be made against the prosecutor, the defence lawyer, or even the judge. But no case has ever been strengthened by brandishing about words like 'perjury' without being able to substantiate them.

1

A literal answer to the question is, report the suspicion to the prosecutor's office, and especially explain why you believe that there was perjury. That addresses the matter of "how to charge with perjury" – like all crimes, the state makes a decision.

There is a secondary issue in that the question presupposes that the officer perjured himself. That is not an observable fact, that is a legal conclusion that has to be based on some set of observable facts. We can presume that the officer testified that A happened. No (presently known) fact suggests that A did not happen. In order for the testimony to be perjury, it must first be false (not yet established). Second, it must be established that the officer knew that the statement was false, again, there is no evidence of that.

A tertiary issue is whether there was reversible error in failing to provide the dashcam video (prejudice against the defendant). That is a sufficiently separate issue that it ought to be addressed as a different question, and the answer to that doesn't impinge on the perjury question. (Even if the failure to provide the video is not sufficient to reverse the conviction, it is certainly relevant to a fresh charge of perjury by the officer).

The fact that the defendant and officer have conflicting testimonies is not enough evidence to show that the officer's statement is untrue (leaving out the knowledge-of-untruth issue). If there is an objective fact about the content of the video, that could at least show whether the statement is clearly, or possibly, false.

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