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Destroying or Concealing Evidence

PC 135 Crimes

The law on the crime of destroying or concealing evidence is found at California Penal Code section 135. 


PC 135 Law

PC 135: Every person, who, knowing that any book, paper, record, instrument in writing, or other matter or thing, is about to be produced in evidence upon any trial, inquiry, or investigation whatever authorized by law, willfully destroys or conceals the same, with intent thereby to prevent it from being produced, is guilty of destroying or concealing evidence (Abbrev.).

For example, if a husband helps his wife hide a gun, after the wife illegally brandishes the gun (brandishing a firearm), then the husband can be charged with concealing evidence.

To be found guilty of destroying or concealing evidence pursuant to PC 135 the district attorney will need to prove both of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That the defendant knew that a book, paper, record, instrument in writing, or other matter, was to be produced in evidence upon any trial, inquiry, or investigation, and

  • The defendant willfully destroyed or concealed the same, with the intent to prevent it from being produced

PC 135 Penalties

The crime of destroying or concealing evidence is charged as a misdemeanor. If found guilty of PC 135, the defendant could face up to 180 days in the county jail sentence.

Probation: Probation is a period of supervision instead of jail. Probation sentences are allowed in PC 135 cases, but they are not guaranteed. Whether or not a defendant will be granted a probation sentence after a conviction for PC 135 depends largely on the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history, if any.

Note: If the defendant is sentenced to probation, the court could sentence the defendant to jail as a term of probation. However, actual jail sentences that are made a part of a probation sentence are generally much shorter than the actual maximum sentence that could be ordered; also, most jail sentences that are ordered after a PC 135 conviction can be alternatively served on work release or house arrest (electronic monitoring).

CIMT: The crime of concealing or destroying evidence is likely a crime involving moral turpitude because it involves dishonestly. Crime that involve moral turpitude carry extra consequences for immigrants and for persons who hold professional or occupation licenses or certificates.

Bail: The scheduled bail amount for PC 135 charges is $5,000 in San Bernardino County. This amount can be lowered or raised depending on several factors, including, but not limited to, the defendant's criminal history and the sophistication of the destroying or concealing of evidence.

In addition to any jail sentence, a conviction for PC 135 could lead to other penalties, such as: fines, harsh probation terms, restitution, civil lawsuits, military enlistment consequences, and more.


Defenses to PC 135


There is no single defense that fits best to a PC 135 charge. In perhaps most cases, the defense of insufficient evidence to prove guilt is used. Insufficient evidence simply means that the district attorney is not able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew the evidence was going to be used in a trial, or that the thing that is considered evidence was not clearly evidence to the defendant. Finally, the DA might not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally destroyed the evidence.

Other common defenses include, mistake of fact, statute of limitations, and coerced confessions.

To learn more about the crime of destroying or concealing evidence, or PC 135, contact our criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation. We are dedicated criminal defense attorneys with successful strategies. Our office is open every day to assist you. Call today!


PC 135 Related Crimes

  • PC 134 Preparing false documentary evidence

  • PC 133 Deceiving witness to affect testimony

  • PC 132 Offering forged documents, ante-dated book, or altered documents, as genuine

  • PC 135.5 Alter evidence regarding public safety officer proceedings

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