Destroying or Concealing Evidence (PC 135) in Aliso Viejo
Under California Penal Code 135, if you knowingly and willfully destroy or conceal any evidence that is about to be produced in an investigation, inquiry or trial, with the intent of preventing it from being used, you are guilty of destroying or concealing evidence. A few examples of legal proceedings include a criminal trial, a civil trial, a police investigation of illegal activity, or a parole board hearing. Therefore, you can commit an obstruction of justice crime even if the evidence is not relevant to a criminal court proceeding, and instead, relevant to, for example, a divorce case. You have to know that whatever you are dealing with is going to be used evidence. For example, if you throw away payments records a few years prior to a current investigation, you will not be charged because of your unawareness of the relevance of that evidence in regard to the current investigation. In addition, you have to have destroyed or concealed the evidence willfully, meaning that you had the full intentions of doing it. For example, if you accidentally ruin evidence by spilling some sort of drink on it by accident, that would not be considered destroying or concealing evidence. Also, the type of evidence is not limited. This includes digital images or video recordings, clothes, drugs or drugs paraphernalia, the weapon used to commit the crime, and not just any type of documents.
In the city of Aliso Viejo, destroying and concealing evidence is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. This crime is considered one of moral turpitude, and is prosecuted strictly by the Orange County District Attorney.Defenses for PC 135
If you are charged under PC 135, some of the defense strategies that a criminal defense attorney can use as part of your defense strategy include:
- There was no active prosecution or investigation, at the time when you destroyed the evidence
- You didn’t know that the material that was destroyed was evidence in a criminal prosecution or investigation
- You were asked to destroy material that happened to be evidence without being given a reason for the destruction
- You did not intentionally destroy or conceal the evidence. The evidence may have been accidentally destroyed or fell into a hidden crevice
- You did not actually conceal or destroy the material in question
On another note, under Penal code 132 PC, it is a crime to present fake, forged, or incorrectly dated written evidence in any kind of legal proceeding.
If you or someone you care about is charged with destroying or concealing evidence, the best action to take is to immediately find and call a proficient and experienced attorney who is familiar with the Courts in Orange County. Calling an attorney immediately will allow the facts of the case to be immediately assessed and the best defense prepared and used to defend you.