Law Against Destroying Evidence
In a criminal investigation, everything matters. Trying to piece together what happened, who did it, and why something happened involves gathering evidence from a variety of sources and analyzing it. When you walk past a crime scene, the entire area is roped off as anything within that cordon could prove important. However, what happens if someone destroys or hides evidence? This is not only a hindrance towards seeking the truth but is also a crime in California.
The Legal Elements
In the criminal justice system, destroying or hiding evidence is illegal according to California Penal Code 135 PC. It is very important that anything relevant is recorded and kept by the police as missing evidence can lead to a false conviction, miscarriage of justice, or any other unfortunate scenarios. If someone has been accused of this crime, they are found guilty if the prosecution can prove several elements. The prosecutor must prove that the accused destroyed or hid evidence from a legal proceeding in a willful or knowing manner. The intent is a really crucial point here. A person can accidentally destroy evidence and not be found guilty. For example, if someone throws out an object that, to them, meant nothing – but for an investigation could have been the key evidence – they still have a legal defense.
Penalties for Destroying Evidence
However, not all have a solid legal defense and some are, in fact, guilty of the crime. If the prosecution meets its burden and proves the guilt of the defendant, the defendant faces a misdemeanor conviction. For this specific penal code, the convicted individual can face possible jail time. On top of this, if the destruction or hiding of the evidence also resulted in other penal code violations, the defendant can face further penalties. If someone has been accused of destroying or hiding evidence from a legal proceeding, it is incredibly important that they seek the counsel of an experienced criminal attorney – like those at Law Advocates Group.