Destroying or Concealing Evidence – Penal Code 135

Spoliation of evidence is a misdemeanor in California.  Pursuant to Penal Code section 135, “a person who, knowing that any book, paper, record, instrument in writing, digital image, video recording owned by another, or other matter or thing, is about to be produced in evidence upon a trial, inquiry, or investigation, authorized by law, willfully destroys, erases, or conceals the same, with the intent to prevent it or its content from being produced, is guilty of a misdemeanor.” Willfully destroying emails, computer data, videos, or evidence from a crime scene in an attempt to prevent it from being produced at trial is a misdemeanor.  The defendant does not have to produce exculpatory evidence, but it is unlawful to destroy material that the person believes would be used for evidence.  It may be a company’s protocol to destroy records after some time, but once there placed on notice, they must preserve the evidence. If your company has recently destroyed documents and is now being investigated for spoliation of evidence, contact Attorney Arthur Khachatourians for a defense consultation.