Planting or Tampering with Evidence in a Criminal Trial
A criminal case is very complex, and a lot of things go into making a conviction. One of the most important aspects of a crime is evidence. Evidence can include eyewitness testimony, physical items, statements, and so much more. The court relies on the truth of the evidence. However, what happens if the evidence has been planted or tampered with? Such instances prove significant, as they could wrongly convict or exonerate the defendant. This article will provide a brief overview of the crime, but if you have any more questions or concerns, reach out to us at the Law Advocate Group.
Elements of the Crime
According to California Penal Code 141 PC, it is illegal if someone plants or tampers with physical evidence, and such actions can include hiding or changing the evidence (among others). For someone to be found guilty of this crime, the prosecution must prove several elements beyond a reasonable doubt. First, the defendant must have knowingly planted or tampered with physical evidence, with the awareness that such actions could result in the evidence being presented at a trial. The evidence could have either made the defendant of the original crime appear guilty or innocent.
Penalties and Sentencing
It is important that the defendant had the intention of planting or tampering with evidence. If a crime occurs on the street and a passerby accidentally moves a piece of evidence without knowing that it is evidence or what even happened – they’re not intentionally tampering with evidence. However, if the prosecution does prove that the defendant committed a violation of the penal code, the defendant faces a misdemeanor with up to six months in jail. But if the defendant was a police officer, the conviction is a felony that can require even steeper jail or prison time.