Tampering With Or Planting Evidence Under Penal Code 141

California penal code section 141 pc, which is tampering with or planting evidence for the purposes of another person being charged is a serious offense.

Below our Los Angeles criminal lawyers explain the legal elements of this crime.

How Does The Prosecutor Prove The Offense Of Tampering With Or Planting Evidence?

To prove that the defendant is guilty of tampering with evidence under penal code 141 pc the prosecutor has to prove the following facts or elements1:

  • The defendant willfully and intentionally2 changed, planted or placed or made, hid or moved evidence3; 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 the evidence, 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.
Example Of Civilian Planting Evidence

In an effort to receive full custody in a divorce proceeding a woman leaves drugs inside her ex-husbands home after dropping off their children.

She proceeds to call the police and have the husband arrested to improve her chances of receiving full custody of their children.

What Happens If A Police Officer Planted Or Tampered With Evidence?

The prosecutor must prove one more element.

  • When the defendant acted, he/she was a peace officer4.
Example Of Peace Officer Planting Evidence

A police officer plants a bag of cocaine in a suspect’s car and reports his findings to the station.

What Happens If A Prosecutor Tampered With Evidence?

Under a new law approved by the governor of California on September 30th, 2016 California penal code 141 was expanded to include prosecuting attorneys who intentionally alter, modify or withhold evidence knowing that this evidence may have a material outcome on a case.5

Legal Defenses For Penal Code 141 PC

Mistake Of Fact Defense

Planting or tampering with evidence is a specific intent crime which means that the defendant needs to have acted with the specific intent to plant or tamper evidence.

If you act without the requisite intent, as stated above, which means you made a reasonable mistake where you did not know you were planting or tampering with evidence you can use this defense in a trial.

You Were Falsely Accused

If you were falsely accused, the facts will need to be investigated further to determine the real cause behind the accusation.

witness pointing

Penalties For Penal Code 141 PC

Planting or tampering with evidence is charged as a misdemeanor.

However, if a police officer plants evidence or violates penal code 141 than they are charged with a felony.

Penalties for violating penal code 141 includethe following:

PenaltiesPersonPolice OfficerProsecutor
FineMax of $1,000
ProbationSummary ProbationFormal ProbationFormal Probation
County Jail or PrisonMax of 6 months county jail1 Year county jail or 2,3, or 5 years prison616 months, 2 or 3 years7

Important Information

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 


  1. California Penal Code 141 []
  2. Someone commits an act “willfully” when he or she does it willingly or on purpose., http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=7 []
  3. 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. []
  4. Peace Officer Defined: Pen. Code, section 830 et seq., A peace officer is any person who comes within the provisions of Penal Code section 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. Available at http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?chapter=4.5.&part=2.&lawCode=PEN&title=3. []
  5. See Assembly Bill 1909 falsifying evidence, available at https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB1909 []
  6. California Penal Code 141(b) – A peace officer who knowingly, willfully, intentionally, and wrongfully alters, modifies, plants, places, manufactures, conceals, or moves any physical matter, digital image, or video recording, 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, digital image, or video recording will be concealed or destroyed, or fraudulently represented as the original evidence upon a trial, proceeding, or inquiry, is guilty of a felony punishable by two, three, or five years in the state prison. Available at http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=141.&lawCode=PEN []
  7. California Penal Code 141(c) – A prosecuting attorney who intentionally and in bad faith alters, modifies, or withholds any physical matter, digital image, video recording, or relevant exculpatory material or information, knowing that it is relevant and material to the outcome of the case, with the specific intent that the physical matter, digital image, video recording, or relevant exculpatory material or information will be concealed or destroyed, or fraudulently represented as the original evidence upon a trial, proceeding, or inquiry, is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for 16 months, or two or three years. Available at http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=141.&lawCode=PEN []

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