When it comes to evidence connected to a crime, you’re not allowed to mess with it. If you do, you will be charged with a crime in California.
The issue of what is considered tampering with evidence and how much trouble you can get into for messing with evidence has been a topic of curiosity ever since it was revealed that Aiden Fucci’s mother was arrested and charged with tampering with evidence after she hand-washed a pair of jeans her son was wearing when he murdered a teenage girl.
The idea of tampering with evidence is a broad term. It is used in connection with a variety of things that, include the following:
- Planting evidence
- Altering evidence
- Hiding evidence
- Manufacturing evidence
- Moving evidence
As society has become advanced, tampering with digital evidence has also been included in tampering with evidence charges. You can be charged with tampering with evidence in California if you deliberately erase, edit, or create digital recordings for the purpose of impeding or influencing a criminal investigation.
To secure a tampering with evidence in California conviction, the prosecutor of the case must prove the following:
- That you knew you were tampering with evidence and continued to do so
- That you were tampering with the evidence in an attempt to confuse investigators, implicate someone else of the crime, or somehow alter the potential charges.
It isn’t always easy for the prosecution to prove their case. The biggest challenge connected to securing a tampering with evidence conviction in California is proving that evidence was tampered with but showing that you knew you were doing something to evidence linked to a crime. In many cases, it’s difficult to determine that the defendant knew that they were doing something to provide evidence of a crime and not simply responding to a mess. For example, it’s not a crime to see a pile of dirty laundry and wash it. However, it is a crime to wash that same pile of laundry if you know it contains evidence of criminal activity. Proving that you knew you were potentially washing away vital evidence is tricky.
If you think that tampering with evidence in California is a felony, you’re not alone. It seems like it should be a felony crime, but in California, it’s handled as a misdemeanor. If you’re convicted, you could be sentenced to up to six months in jail and/or ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.
The exception to tampering with evidence cases being handled as misdemeanors is if the defendant is a law enforcement official. Law enforcement officials who tamper with evidence in California face felony charges and could be sentenced to as much as five years in prison.