Under California Penal Code section 134, it is a crime for a person to prepare false evidence with the intention to use it fraudulently in any legal process. The crime of offering and preparing false evidence falls under the category of serious obstruction of justice crimes. A conviction for this crime is a felony that attracts penalties of up to three years in prison.
The Legal Definition of Preparing False Witness
California Penal Code 134 legally describes offering false witnesses as:
“Every person guilty of preparing a false or antedated paper, record, instrument in writing, or other matter or thing, with an intention to produce or allow it to be produced for deceitful or fraudulent purpose as genuine upon a proceeding, trial, or inquiry authorized by law, is culpable of a felony offense.”
It is important to keep in mind that, under Penal Code 134, you can be found guilty of preparing a false witness even if the said evidence is never used in any legal proceeding. This means it is a crime to fabricate evidence if the intention for use was fraudulent.
Examples of False Evidence
The legal examples of false evidence range depending on the legal matter before the court. The evidence could include receipts, photographs, videos, audio recordings, documents, urine tests, fake wills, and more. Some of the common situations of preparing false evidence in California include:
- Making a false receipt with intent to use in a personal injury trial
- Altering a will with intent to use it in probate court
- Presenting a false photograph to depict total physical damage to a car in a hit and run crash
- Submitting altered evidence to fight traffic tickets
- Preparing a “Proof of Completion” document to show you have completed court-ordered alcohol classes
Elements of Preparing False Evidence Crime
For the prosecutor to convict you of preparing false evidence under Penal Code 134, they must prove beyond any doubt you are guilty of the following elements of the crime:
- You prepared and presented fraudulent or false evidence
- The evidence was presented in a legal proceeding or was intended to be presented in a legal process
- You knew the evidence was fraudulent or false
What Are the Legal Penalties for Preparing False Evidence?
Once convicted of preparing and presenting false evidence under California penal code 134, you are deemed guilty of a felony. The legal penalties for the felony include:
- 16 months, two years, or three years in a California state prison
- Probation and up to one year in a county jail
- Exorbitant fines
- Both fines and jail
How to Fight a Preparing False Evidence Charge
Being charged with preparing false evidence is a serious crime that can impact your life for years. If you are facing a false evidence charge, the experienced defense attorneys from the Los Angeles DUI Law office are committed to ensuring you receive a fair trial and reduced penalties. The following are some of the ways to fight being charged with preparing false witnesses:
Lack of Intent
Preparing false evidence is not enough to secure a conviction. The prosecutor in a Mississippi law court must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you had the intent to produce the false witness. If you can prove you had no intent, you stand a chance of having the charges reduced or dropped entirely.
For example, if someone asked you to prepare a false document, but you didn’t know it will be used to prove the person’s innocence in a criminal trial or any other legal proceeding, you can’t be charged with the offense of fabricating evidence since you didn’t have an intent for it to be used fraudulently.
In some cases, an attorney could argue that you were under immense stress and pressure from the legal process and you didn’t have the intent to deceive. The goal is to cast some doubt on the element of intent so that your charges are reduced or dismissed.
Victim of Entrapment
If you can prove your actions were induced by persons in law enforcement using flattery, force, or harassment, a false evidence charge could be dropped. For example, if a prosecutor or representatives of the prosecutor induce or pressurize you to prepare and present false evidence against a defendant, you may have a valid claim of entrapment due to the actions taken by the prosecutor to force you into giving false evidence.
Mistake of Fact
As mentioned under the elements of the crime above, a prosecutor must prove you knew all along the evidence was false or fraudulent. An experienced defense attorney could argue that you mistakenly believe the evidence offered in a legal proceeding was genuine and valid. Where the prosecutor cannot prove your state of mind, a conviction may be deferred.
What Are the Immigration Consequences of a False Evidence Charge?
Preparing false evidence conviction has detrimental immigration consequences. In California, offenses involving false witnesses are crimes categorized under moral turpitude, which could result in non-citizens being:
- Marked as inadmissible
Can a Conviction for Preparing False Evidence Be Expunged?
You can get a conviction for a false evidence conviction expunged in California. Defendants might get an expungement if they are awarded with felony probation instead of prison time. However, you cannot get an expungement for a crime if you are sentenced to state prison.
In California, there are three crimes related to preparing false evidence:
Offering false evidence (PC 132): Penal code 132 makes it an offense for a person to provide false evidence in a legal process. However, penal code 132 is much narrower than penal code 134 and only applies to written evidence.
Perjury (PC 118): Penal code 118 perjury in California makes it a crime for a person to provide false information under oath deliberately; the law applies to actual testimony.
Destroying or concealing evidence (PC 135): Penal code 135 is the California statute that makes it a crime to destroy or hide evidence needed in a legal proceeding willfully.
Let the Legal Team from Los Angeles DUI Law Help You
Preparing or presenting a false witness is a serious crime, and you need a highly experienced and competent lawyer to help you navigate the legal troubles. At Los Angeles DUI Law, our defense attorneys leverage their vast expertise and top-notch investigatory and research tools to provide high-quality legal representation for clients facing false evidence issues.
We have a proven track record helping clients facing this crime in California, and we will fight to ensure you receive a fair trial. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.