Destroying Or Concealing Evidence in California – Penal Code 135 PC
I do see people getting charged with this Penal Code 135 once in a while in Los Angeles County courts. I've been doing this for twenty-five years and usually what it has to do with is they're basically destroying evidence that they knew could be used to either prosecute them or somebody else in a crime.
Examples are rampant. If you basically see that there's a pair of shoes on the news that are very identifiable shoes for example that a person is committing a robbery and you realize the person is your son, and then you take and throw those shoes away and destroy them in some way and the police find out about that, you could be charged with the crime of destroying or concealing evidence. Obviously, they would have to be able to prove that, but that's a good example of when Penal Code Section 135 could apply.
There are other examples of destroying or concealing evidence. Sometimes people realize that either they could be charged with a crime – some sort of a financial crime, commonly known as a white collar crime – so they destroy records, they break their computer, the smash their hard drive, they burn-up documents that can be used to prosecute them.
If the government obviously found out about that and they can prove it, then they can charge you with destroying or concealing evidence. They could use Penal Code Section 135 and the elements of it. Obviously, the really crucial elements are that you willfully did it – in other words, you intentionally destroyed the evidence.
If you accidentally delete some text that might incriminate you and you can show that it was an accident, or you accidentally lose your phone, ala Tom Brady in the deflate-gate that wouldn't necessarily be a violation of Penal Code Section 135 if you could show that it was accidentally. But if you're doing it willfully and on purpose, you're destroying evidence in any way, that would meet one of the elements of concealing or destroying evidence.
There are circumstances where you conceal evidence, so the prosecutors can't find it. Either take it and hide it somewhere or give it to somebody else. So, this Penal Code comes in handy for the prosecutors when they're trying to get people who don't want to be prosecuted, so they're trying to destroy evidence, so the prosecutors can't use it. Attorneys can get in trouble for this as well. If they have evidence in their possession they can't hide it or conceal it or destroy it or help their client hide it, conceal it or destroy it, otherwise, the attorney's will be in the Los Angeles court system facing a destroying or concealing evidence as well.
Legal Defenses for Destroying Concealing Evidence
One defense is that I've already mentioned is that you accidentally got rid of the evidence or it accidentally got deleted or it accidentally was destroyed or burnt-up. If you can mount an argument that passes the red phase test obviously, and you can say listen, I accidentally lost my phone. Yeah, I had the evidence on there, but I don't have it anymore. Sometimes I've had clients where their house is burned down and there was evidence in there that could have been used to prosecute them – that's not their fault; that's a defense if they can show they're not the one that caused the house to be burnt down and they're not responsible for the evidence being lost or concealed or destroyed in some way. The key is creating reasonable doubt.
Sometimes the evidence is stolen. There are all sorts of things that can happen. It has to make sense surrounding the circumstances. If you're charged with Penal Code Section 135, you're going to want to get in and talk to a seasoned criminal defense attorney – someone like me who's been doing it twenty-five years.
Seeking Best Possible Outcome
You get in and we talk about everything. You obviously tell me the truth – any accurate information and then I'll figure out how to best defend you – whether it's a case we're going to fight and take the jury trial, whether it's a case we're going to just convince the prosecutors that you didn't do anything wrong and get your version of events because sometimes a one-sided account is taken, or whether it's a case where we're going to get a lesser charge, or we're going to work out some sort of a diversionary program. We're going to get a mitigation package together to try to help you.
Whatever the case may be, having a champion lawyer by your side who knows what they're doing, has practiced criminal defense for a long time and knows all the ins-and-outs of it, that's crucial. That's what it's going to take to get you the best result and get you out of the criminal justice system as fast as possible.