I. PC 141: Evidence Tampering
Legal Definition: (a) ”…a person who knowingly, willfully, intentionally, and wrongfully alters, modifies, plants, places, manufactures, conceals, or moves any physical matter, digital image, or video recording, with the specific intent that the action will result in a person being charged with a crime or with the specific intent that the physical matter will be wrongfully produced as genuine or true upon a trial, proceeding, or inquiry, is guilty…”
For a person to be convicted of a violation of PC 141, the prosecution must show that:
- You willfully, intentionally, and wrongfully changed/planted/made or hid evidence;
- You knew you were changing/planting/placing/making/hiding/moving that evidence;
- When you changed/planted/placed/made/hid the evidence, you intended that action would result in someone being charged with a crime or that the evidence would wrongfully be produced as genuine or true in a legal proceeding.
II. What does this mean?
Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. This is known as an obstructive of justice. If the person who plants the evidence is a police officer, then they can be charged under this section as a felony. This covers every kind of physical object that could be produced in any kind of legal trial, proceeding, or investigation. It also includes digital images and video recordings as well. This isn’t limited to the evidence in a criminal trial, it can also include if you plant evidence in a civil trial as well.
This requires the intent of all three elements enough. You have to know that you are intentionally planting or tampering with evidence and that you had intended that it would lead to someone being charged with a crime or that the evidence you produced would wrongfully be produced as genuine in a legal proceeding. Lacking knowledge that the evidence you producing is fake or falsified is a defense to the charge.
For non-police officers, this is charged as a misdemeanor offense. If you are convicted, you could be sentenced to upwards of six months in County Jail. You would be required to serve at least 50% of that time in custody. You would also be subject to fines of up to $1,000 for the conviction.
If you are a police officer, this charge becomes a felony, as we hold police officers to a higher standard. If you are convicted of this charge as a felony, you could be sentenced to State Prison for upwards of 2, 3, or 5 years in State Prison. You would be required to serve at least 50% of that time in custody.
This is not a strike offense under California’s Three Strikes Law. It is also not a Sex Offense requiring Sex Registration under PC 290. However, because this crime involves dishonesty, it would likely affect people with Professional Licenses or people in Immigration proceedings.
IV. Common Defenses
If you had presented evidence to another, that you reasonably but mistakenly believed that the evidence you presented would not be used in Court, it can act as a mistake of fact defense for your case. Imagine having wrong information, or making some kind of model, that would help your friend in a pending case. And, your friend steals it and uses it in their pending trial as evidence. You cannot be charged here as you reasonably believed that the person would not present the item in Court, but maybe would use or keep it for another purpose.
You could also be blamed by another using false accusations against you. The person could produce their own evidence, present it in court, and when called on that false evidence, they say you are the one who produced it. This could be common if the person is the victim of a crime you are accused of, or it’s a person in a lawsuit against you. People in those situations tend to have animosity against you can falsely accuse you of planting evidence.
V. Call Today
A criminal conviction can be devastating to a person’s life and reputation. Planting evidence can be easily falsified against you, and easily defended if you find the right attorney to represent you. Our PC 141 Ontario attorney has successfully defended numerous cases involving evidence tampering under PC 141. You, or your loved one, cannot chance to ruin your life. The initial consultation is free and we are available to answer your questions 24/7. Call the Inland Empire Criminal Defense today at 909-939-7126! Located in Ontario, CA.