Tampering with or Planting Evidence | Penal Code 141

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Penal Code 141

141. (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), any person who knowingly, willfully, and intentionally alters, modifies, plants, places, manufactures, conceals, or moves any physical matter, with 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 any trial, proceeding, or inquiry whatever, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(b) Any peace officer who knowingly, willfully, and intentionally alters, modifies, plants, places, manufactures, conceals, or moves any physical matter, with 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 any trial, proceeding, or inquiry whatever, is guilty of a felony punishable by two, three, or five years in the state prison.

(c) Nothing in this section shall preclude prosecution under both this section and any other provision of law.

Definition of Tampering with or Planting Evidence

The offense covers a situation where a person intentionally tampers with or plants evidence with the intent that another person be charged with a crime or the evidence is wrongfully produced as genuine under California Penal Code 141.

How Does the Prosecutor Prove the Offense of Tampering with or Planting Evidence?

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this offense, the prosecutor has to prove the following facts or elements1:

  • The defendant willfully and intentionally ((Someone commits an act “willfully” when he or she does it willingly or on purpose.)) changed, planted or placed or made, hid or moved evidence2; AND
  • The defendant knew she/he was changing or planting, or placing or making or hiding or moving) the evidence; AND
  • When the defendant changed or planted, or placed or made or hid or moved theevidence, he/she intended that his/her action would result in someone being charged with a crime/or the evidence being wrongfully produced as genuine or true in a court proceeding.

In a situation where the person who tampered with or planted the evidence is a peace officer, this additional element is added:

  • When the defendant acted, he/she was a peace officer.  A peace officer is any person who comes within the provisions of Penal Code sectio 830 and who otherwise meets all standards imposed by law on a peace officer, and notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person other than those designated in this code section is a peace officer. Peace Officer Defined: Pen. Code, section 830 et seq.

Example:

Joe, a masked robber, tried to rob Bill by holding him at gun point. When Bill tried to fight back, Joe shot Bill, wounding him in the leg and rendering him unconscious. Before the police arrived, Joe wiped his finger prints off the gun and planted the gun inside a car that was parked nearby.  Joe can be charged with the offense because he intentionally planted the evidence in another person’s car so that the person is convicted of the crime.

Example:

Sylvia wants to collect workers compensation benefits from her employer so she pretends to injure herself on the job and then goes to a friend doctor and gets a false diagnosis. Because she intentionally used the false diagnosis as evidence to support her workers compensation case, she can be charged with the offense.

Example:

Arthur, a police officer, who has been on a drug trafficking case for months without result, wants to validate his reputation with the chief. He plants a bag of cocaine in one of the suspect’s cars and reports his findings to the station. He then uses the planted evidence as probable cause to obtain a search warrant to search the suspect’s house where he discovers real evidence of drug trafficking. Because Arthur intentionally planted the evidence as if it were genuine evidence of drug trafficking, he can be charged with the offense.

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Who Can Be Charged With Tampering With Or Planting evidence

Any person can be charged with the offense as long as they intentionally and willingly tampered or planted the evidence and they did so with the specific intent that a person be convicted with a crime or that the evidence be produced as genuine. A peace officer can also be charged with the offense.

How Can You Fight Charges of Tampering With or Planting Evidence & What Are The Legal Defenses?

Mistake of fact: If you act without the requisite intent, as stated above, rather than act mistakenly, then you cannot be charged with the offense.

False accusations: If you were falsely accused, you cannot be charged with this offense. In such a situation, the facts will need to be investigated further to determine the real cause behind the accusation. However, without real facts to back up the accusation, the prosecutor will not be able to charge you with the offense.

What Are the Penalties, Punishment And Sentencing Guidelines?

Misdemeanor:

  • If you are not a police officer and you violated this penal code section, you are facing a misdemeanor charge. The maximum prison sentence in county jail is six months and a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

Felony:

  • If you are a police officer and you violated this penal code section, you are facing a felony charge. The maximum sentence is either probation with up to 1 year in county jail, or 2, 3 or 5 years in state prison.3

Related Offenses

Next Steps If You Need Help

If you have been arrested and would like to learn more about how attorneys charge.

If you want to understand why its important to have an attorney represent you.

If you would like to discuss a pending case with an attorney contact the Aizman Law Firm at 818-351-9555 for a free confidential consultation.

Request A Free Consultation 818-351-9555 

Footnotes

  1. Penal Code 141 []
  2. The definition of “evidence” in this context is fairly broad and includes any kind of physical item that can be produced in a court proceeding. Pen. Code, § 141. []
  3. Pen. Code, § 141(b). []

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