Prosecutors and criminal defense lawyers in California use evidence to prove that something occurred during a court case. As such, evidence is considered very important in the legal system. Anyone who mishandles evidence could face criminal charges.
California Penal Code Section 135: Destroying or Concealing Evidence is used to prosecute individuals who destroy or hide evidence. The Simmrin Law Group can help you go over the details of this charge and possible legal defenses against this accusation.
Destroying or Concealing Evidence: The Definition
Individuals can be charged under PC 135 if they:
- Destroy or Conceal Any Evidence
- While Acting Knowingly and Intentionally
Many different items can be considered evidence in California, including:
- Papers and Records
- Digital Images
- Video Recordings
Individuals must destroy or conceal evidence in the course of a legal proceeding in order to be convicted under PC 135. California defines legal proceedings very broadly. Examples of legal proceedings can include:
- Civil Trials
- Criminal Trials
- Police Investigations
Any actions taken to destroy or hide evidence can lead to a conviction under PC 135.
Destroying or Concealing Evidence: Examples
Man A works for a major electronics company. The company regularly shreds business documents after a set period of time. Man A is responsible for shredding documents and carries out the job promptly. He later discovers that he shredded papers that were evidence in an ongoing criminal trial. He should not face criminal charges because he did not realize he was destroying evidence.
Man B works in a doctor’s office and regularly commits healthcare fraud. Eventually, the office faces charges from an insurance company. Panicked, Man B shreds all documents related to the acts of fraud. He could be convicted under PC 135 for intentionally destroying evidence tied to a legal proceeding.
Man C gets into a violent fight outside of a bar one night and beats another man with a tire iron. He does not think much about it, but hears the next day that the man filed charges. He takes the tire iron and drops it off a bridge into a river, hoping to hide the weapon. He could face charges for concealing evidence.
Man D works for a large company that recently came under scrutiny for insider trading accusations. His boss approaches him and tells him that if he does not shred several boxes worth of paperwork he will lose his job. His boss also threatens his physical well-being. Man D shreds the documents, but may be able to avoid PC 135 charges since he was forced to destroy evidence through threats.
Destroying or Concealing Evidence: The Penalties
PC 135 violations are prosecuted as misdemeanors in the state of California. A conviction for destroying or concealing evidence can lead to:
- Jail Time: Up to 6 Months
- Fines: Up to $1,000
There are several other criminal charges in California tied to the treatment of evidence and behavior with regard to criminal accusations. Individuals could face charges under:
- California Penal Code Section 118: Perjury
- California Penal Code Section 132 or 134: Offering or Preparing False Evidence
- California Penal Code Section 141: Planting Evidence
A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can help individuals facing any of these charges.
Destroying or Concealing Evidence: Legal Defenses
Building a successful defense against PC 135 charges typically requires the help of a professional criminal defense lawyer. A lawyer may be able to argue:
You Did Not Realize You Were Destroying Evidence
It can be difficult to know exactly what items qualify as evidence for a legal investigation. For example, many professional offices destroy paperwork after a set period of time. Destroying paperwork on a set schedule, without realizing that it might be evidence in a criminal matter, should not result in a PC 135 conviction.
You Were Forced to Destroy or Conceal Evidence
Sometimes, individuals may be forced to hide or destroy evidence. Individuals who are subjected to threats or violence should not be convicted for destroying or concealing evidence.
Building a successful defense against PC 135 charges can take time. It is a good idea to contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as charges are brought against you.
You Can Get Help Handling PC 135 Charges
Individuals in California don’t have to fight California Penal Code Section 135: Destroying or Concealing Evidence charges alone. You can get professional help from the Simmrin Law Group today. Let our professional criminal defense lawyers assess your situation with a FREE case evaluation.
Call us at (310) 896-2723 or complete our online contact form to start building a defense today.