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What Constitutes “False Evidence”?

By Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney on February 10, 2023

Knowingly preparing false evidence or offering false evidence in a legal proceeding or investigation is a serious legal offense in California. In fact, it’s a felony that carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison.

The courts have a keen interest in protecting the integrity of the judicial process. That’s why judges and prosecutors aggressively pursue defendants when they suspect that evidence has been tampered with.

Defendants who are accused of submitting false evidence will want to find an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your freedom.

The Legal Definition of False Evidence

Offering false evidence to any type of official hearing, proceeding, or investigation is a legal offense under PC 132. And preparing false evidence is a legal offense under PC 134.

According to the legal definition, false evidence is evidence that was submitted with knowledge that it wasn’t true or prepared with knowledge that it would be used to subvert the legal process.  That’s why establishing intent is crucial for determining if someone is guilty of submitting or preparing false evidence.

Let’s say someone asks a photographer to alter a photograph by adding a person to a group photo who wasn’t there at the time the picture was taken, and the person tells the photographer that the picture will only be used on the company’s website.

If the person uses that photo to convince a police officer that she has an alibi for a crime she actually committed, then she would be guilty of offering false evidence. In this scenario, the photographer would not be guilty of preparing false evidence because he had no knowledge that his work was being used for illicit purposes.

False evidence that’s produced or altered “for any fraudulent or deceitful purpose” can take several forms, including:

  • Documents
  • Receipts
  • Videos
  • Emails
  • NFTs
  • Body tissue
  • Photographs
  • Text messages
  • Social media content
  • Physical evidence such as weapons, clothing, or maps

When Is It Illegal to Submit or Prepare False Evidence?

Submitting or preparing false evidence is legally prohibited in any type of proceeding or investigation that’s “authorized by the State of California.” This is an extremely broad definition that includes:

  • Inquiries
  • Mediation
  • Arbitration
  • Civil actions
  • Traffic court
  • Pre-trial hearings
  • Small claims court
  • Official investigations
  • Criminal prosecutions
  • Grand jury investigations

Effective Legal Defenses

To convict you of submitting or preparing false evidence, the prosecution must prove that you knowingly and deliberately attempted to mislead someone. To build the strongest possible defense, your criminal defense attorney will examine all the evidence against you, including police reports, witness statements, surveillance video, and forensic evidence.

Effective legal defenses against offering or preparing false evidence include:

  • You simply made a mistake.
  • You had no intent to offer false information.
  • You had no intent to create false information.
  • The evidence you submitted or prepared is not false.
  • You were not aware that your work would be misused.
  • You never authorized anyone to use your work as part of a legal proceeding.
  • You are the victim of entrapment, which may involve luring, pressure, harassment, fraud, or threats.

Were You Charged with Submitting or Preparing False Evidence?

At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, our nationally acclaimed criminal defense attorneys have been featured on Fox News, CNN, CNBC, ABC News, and the BBC.

We’ll look for inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case and develop the best strategy to get the charges against you dismissed.

Call (213) 688-0460 to schedule a case review today.

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Posted in: White-Collar Crime