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Destroying or Concealing Evidence Laws (PC 135) in California - IE Criminal Defense

PC 135: Destroying or Concealing Evidence

Legal Definition: A person who is experienced, holds expertise, and possesses authority in the matter, understands that any book, paper, record, instrument in writing, digital image, video recording owned by another, or other matter or thing, is about to be presented as evidence during a trial, inquiry, or investigation authorized by law. This person intentionally destroys, erases, or conceals the same, with the clear intent to prevent it or its content from being produced. Violations of PC 135 require the prosecution to demonstrate the following elements to convict: 1. Knowledge that a book, paper, record, instrument in writing, or other matter is going to be presented as evidence during a trial, inquiry, or investigation; AND 2. Willful destruction or concealment of said item with the explicit intention of preventing it from being introduced as evidence.

What does this mean?

When individuals find themselves in difficult circumstances, be it their own or someone else’s, it can lead to precarious situations. These predicaments may involve criminal charges and the potential for incarceration. In times of desperation, people may act impulsively, disregarding the consequences of their actions. Here, we are confronted with the notion that certain evidence, which could potentially benefit you or someone you know, is on the brink of destruction. However, it is crucial to recognize that tampering with evidence constitutes a crime. The fundamental principle of the Justice System is that the truth shall prevail. Concealing essential evidence impedes the pursuit of truth, hindering justice from being served.


Destroying or concealing evidence is a misdemeanor offense only. If you are to be found guilty under this section, you could be sentenced to up to 180 days in County Jail. You would be required to serve 50% of that sentence. In some PC 135 cases, you may be able to avoid jail entirely and instead serve an alternative sentence. Alternative sentences include work release, which is commonly known as Community Service, or electronic monitoring, also known as House Arrest. PC 135 is not a strike offense under the Three Strike Laws. It is also not considered a crime of moral turpitude. However, people with professional licenses or who are in the United States on a temporary basis face extra scrutiny under this section. The reason for that extra level of scrutiny is based on the offense itself. The offense involves obvious deception, as the means of gaining some advantageous situation in a Trial. An Immigration Court, for example, may look down upon a person who is trying to earn legal status within the Country. A judge may also be more skeptical of any evidence you may present as being potentially false, based on a conviction under this section. Biases exist in all walks of life, and a Judge in Immigration Court, or someone overseeing an Administrative Hearing for your Professional Licenses, will likely carry that bias too. There are also additional issues that come with a conviction here, such as fines and fees, possible civil liability from your actions, and much harsher probation terms.

Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Insufficient Evidence
  3. Mistake of Fact

When facing a violation of PC 135, it is important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all defense. Every case is unique and requires a comprehensive understanding of the circumstances. However, a commonly utilized defense is insufficient evidence to establish guilt. Insufficient evidence implies that the district attorney fails to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, your awareness of the evidence’s intended use in a trial or that the object in question can be unmistakably considered evidence. Demonstrating the absence of intent to destroy evidence is crucial to support this defense. It is crucial to highlight innocent scenarios where evidence is inadvertently destroyed or lost. Additionally, instances where evidence is provided to you without proper instructions or disclosure of its nature cannot be held against you, as lacking the intended intent to commit the offense of PC 135. Rest assured that with our experienced expertise in such matters, you can trust in our commitment to deliver a strong and reliable defense.

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Facing a criminal case isn’t just about jail time. It’s about the risk to future employment opportunities, the threat to professional licenses, and the looming danger of losing immigration status in the U.S. At Inland Empire Criminal Defense, our expert criminal defense attorneys have a stellar track record in defending clients against misdemeanor charges, especially under PC 135. Benefit from our free initial consultation and know that we’re on standby, 24/7, to address any queries. Don’t compromise on your future; dial Inland Empire Criminal Defense at 909-281-0465 today!

Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor should it be considered the formation of a lawyer or attorney-client relationship. If you would like to find out more information about your particular legal matter, contact our office for a consultation.

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