California Penal Code Section 141 PC: Planting Or Tampering With Evidence
1. Definition and Elements of the Crime
Our justice system relies heavily on physical evidence, which is needed to prove cases and claims in court. As a result, it is a serious offense to plant evidence or to otherwise tamper with evidence in order to falsely implicate (or exonerate) someone of a crime. Planting or Tampering with Evidence is a criminal offense under California Penal Code Section 141 PC.
The crime of Planting or Tampering with Evidence requires a prosecutor to prove the following elements:
- That the defendant planted or tampered with evidence intentionally
- That the defendant knew he or she was planting or tampering with evidence
- When the defendant planted or tampered with the evidence, he or she intended that either
- Someone else would be implicated in a crime
- OR that the evidence would be falsely be interpreted as true in a legal proceeding
Planting or Tampering with Evidence does not only apply to evidence in criminal proceedings. Someone can be convicted under the statute for planting or tampering with evidence in any kind of legal proceeding, including civil or administrative actions.
A man wants revenge on a rival so he places a baggie of cocaine in the rival’s car and makes an anonymous call to the police. The police subsequently search the vehicle, find the drugs and arrest the rival for the Drug Crime of Possession of a Narcotic pursuant to California Health and Safety Code 11350(a) H&S. The first man would be guilty of Planting Evidence under Penal Code 141 PC.
Another example would be a man who intentionally injures himself on the job as part of a Workers Compensation Fraud scheme. In addition to being charged for the Fraud offense, the man could also be charged with Planting False Evidence, as his injury would be considered evidence in his worker’s compensation claim, and he illegally “planted” the evidence by creating the injury.
3. Related Offenses
Related offenses include:
- Offering False Evidence – California Penal Code Section 132 PC
- Preparing False Evidence – California Penal Code Section 134 PC
- Destroying Evidence – California Penal Code Section 135 PC
- Perjury – California Penal Code Section 118 PC
4. Defenses to Planting or Tampering With Evidence Charges
If someone made a reasonable mistake and unknowingly planted or altered evidence, or did so without realizing that it could be presented in court one day, that person would have a valid Mistake of Fact defense and thus would not be criminally liable. This is because the crime of Planting or Tampering with Evidence requires willful and knowing behavior.
In addition, this is an offense in which False Accusations may be common, especially in civil cases involving parties who despise each other. In such cases, the person falsely accused of planting or tampering with evidence may have to show why the accusation against them is not true.
For those who are not police officers, the crime of Planting or Tampering with Evidence is a misdemeanor-level offense. A person convicted could be punished by up to six months in jail and fines of $1000 plus penalties and assessments.
For police officers who are convicted of Tampering with or Planting Evidence in a case, the punishment is significantly more severe. Evidence tampering is a felony for police officers and is punishable by up to five years in prison and expensive court fines. In addition, any officer convicted of this offense would be effectively prohibited from ever serving as a peace officer again.
6. Criminal Defense for Planting or Tampering With Evidence Cases
Planting or Tampering with Evidence is a serious offense that can damage the reputation of any person accused. Many times the act in question was innocent or the defendant is a victim of a false accusation. Because of this, it is crucial to speak with an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney immediately if you or someone you know have been accused of or charged with this crime. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience. Mr. Kraut is highly regarded throughout the court system for his legal expertise and extensive litigation skills.
For more information about Planting or Tampering with Evidence, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.