Evidence is the foundation of any criminal case. If you attempt to alter a criminal case by planting or tampering with evidence, you could be charged with a crime. In most cases, planting or tampering with evidence is a misdemeanor offense. However, the charges are much more serious when police or prosecutors are involved.
If you have been charged with planting or tampering with evidence in Los Angeles, you need to speak with an attorney immediately. Contact The Rodriguez Law Group to schedule a free consultation with our Los Angeles evidence tampering defense lawyers today.
Planting or Tampering With Evidence in Los Angeles
In California, it is unlawful to manipulate a criminal investigation or case by planting or tampering evidence. Specifically, California Penal Code 141 PC explains that “a person who knowingly, willfully, and intentionally” plants or tampers with evidence with the specific intent that either (a) a person is charged with a crime or (b) the evidence is wrongfully believed to be genuine, is guilty of a misdemeanor offense.
In other words, it’s unlawful to plant or tamper with evidence in order to have someone arrested or manipulate a criminal proceeding.
Unlawful Behavior Under 141 PC
What exactly does it mean to “plant” or “tamper with” evidence? Under Penal Code 141 PC, any of the following behaviors can trigger criminal liability for the crime:
- Concealing, or
- Moving evidence.
Evidence can include physical matter, digital images, or video recordings.
Specific Intent Required
The state has to prove two things when you are accused of a crime under 141 PC. First, it must show that you planted or tampered with evidence. Second, it must prove that you acted with the specific intent to produce a particular outcome.
Penal Code 141 PC explains that the crime occurs when you plant or tamper with evidence when you have the specific intent to that:
- The action will result in a person being charged with a crime; or
- The physical matter will be wrongfully produced as genuine or true upon a trial, proceeding, or inquiry.
What is specific intent? Specific intent means that you must have committed a physical act (i.e., planting or tampering with evidence) intentionally and knowingly in order to achieve a particular result (i.e., arrest or belief that evidence is real).
Example #1: Your brother is suspected to have been involved in a robbery. When police visit your home to question him, you think that it would be funny to plant fake evidence in plain view for the officers to see. You do not intend for him to be arrested or for the evidence to be considered as genuine. Instead, you just want to scare him with a practical joke. Since you didn’t plant the evidence to have your brother arrested or cause police to believe it was real, you lacked the specific intent necessary for criminal conduct under 141 PC.
Example #2: Your ex-girlfriend has started dating a new guy and you’re jealous. In order to get revenge, you plant drugs in his car while they are out to dinner one night. You know that there are several DUI checkpoints in place that night and that it is likely his vehicle will be searched. You planted the evidence with the specific intent that he would be arrested and with the intent that the evidence would be considered genuine. You acted with the specific intent that is required under 141 PC.
It’s important to point out that you don’t actually have to be successful in having someone arrested or having evidence mistakenly believed as true. You can be charged with the crime under 141 PC as long as you committed the act with the required specific intent.
Penalties for Planting or Tampering With Evidence in Los Angeles
In California, planting or tampering with evidence is typically a misdemeanor offense. If you are convicted, your criminal sentence could include:
- 6 months in a Los Angeles jail
- $1,000 fine
- Summary probation
- Community service, and/or
- Mandatory counseling.
The penalties you face will likely depend on your criminal history and the seriousness of your actions.
Aggravated Penalties for Police and Prosecutors
Police officers and prosecutors are trusted to enforce and uphold the law in good faith. The crime of planting or tampering evidence becomes a felony when the perpetrator is employed as a police officer or prosecuting attorney. Penalties for an officer or attorney convicted of the offense could include:
- Probation and 12 months in a Los Angeles jail; or
- 2, 3, or 5 years in a California state prison.
Felonies are also punishable by fines of up to $10,000.
Defenses for Planting or Tampering With Evidence
The state has the burden of proving that you are guilty of tampering with or planting evidence. They must show that you not only planted or manipulated evidence, but that you did so with the specific intent to cause a particular outcome. Asserting a strong defense can make the prosecution’s job incredibly difficult.
Defenses should help to cast doubt on your guilt, attack the validity of the state’s evidence, and/or explain your alleged behavior. Possible defenses to charges for planting or tampering with evidence include:
- You did not act knowingly, willfully, intentionally, and wrongfully
- You lacked the specific intent to cause an arrest or have evidence mistakenly believed to be true
- You have been falsely accused, or
- You have been mistakenly identified.
It’s important to thoroughly investigate your case to identify every possible defense. Contact the Rodriguez Law Group to speak with our experienced legal team today.
Los Angeles Planting and Tampering With Evidence Defense Lawyers
Have you been accused of manipulating evidence in a criminal case? Tampering with or planting evidence can have serious consequences. It’s important to seek legal assistance immediately. Contact our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys to schedule a free consultation. We will review your case, explain your rights, and help you understand your legal options. Call today to get started on your defense.