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Penal Code 134 PC | Preparing False Evidence

March 21, 2024

Penal Code 134 PC – Preparing False Evidence

Being charged with preparing false evidence under California Penal Code 134 can be scary. This law makes it illegal to make up or change evidence that you plan to use to try to win a court case or investigation. Even if you don’t end up using the false evidence, just preparing it is against the law. But there are defenses that can help you fight the charges.

What Does California Law Say About Preparing False Evidence?

Here’s what Penal Code 134 says:

Every person guilty of preparing any false or ante-dated book, paper, record, instrument in writing, or other matter or thing, with intent to produce it, or allow it to be produced for any fraudulent or deceitful purpose, as genuine or true, upon any trial, proceeding, or inquiry whatever, authorized by law, is guilty of felony.

This means it’s illegal to make or change any kind of document, photo, video, or other evidence if:

  • You know it’s false
  • You plan to use it to trick people in a court case or investigation

Some examples of violating PC 134 include:

  • Creating a fake receipt to try to win a lawsuit
  • Changing a will before it goes to probate court
  • Altering a photo of a car accident to make the damage look worse

It doesn’t matter if you actually end up using the false evidence or not. Just preparing it with plans to use it fraudulently is enough to break the law.

What Are the Penalties?

Preparing false evidence under PC 134 is a felony. That means it’s punishable by:

  • 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in state prison
  • Up to 1 year in county jail
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • Formal probation

The judge has discretion to give you probation instead of prison. But probation often comes with strict terms like community service, classes, drug tests, and more.

How Can I Fight the Charges?

There are several legal defenses that could get your charges reduced or dismissed. Some common ones include:

  • You didn’t intend to use it fraudulently. Prosecutors must prove you planned to use the false evidence to trick people. If you can show this wasn’t your intent, you may beat the charges.
  • You didn’t know it was false. You have to know the evidence is false to be guilty under PC 134. If you reasonably believed it was true, it’s not preparing false evidence.
  • Entrapment. This applies if police pressured you into preparing the false evidence. For example, if an officer threatened you or refused to leave you alone until you created fake documents.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can evaluate the details of your case and build the strongest defense.

How Does a Conviction Impact Me?

A PC 134 conviction can have consequences that go beyond jail time and fines. It can also:

  • Prevent you from owning a gun
  • Show up on background checks for jobs and housing
  • Get your professional license suspended or revoked
  • Get you deported if you’re a non-citizen

These long-term effects make it critical to fight the charges with an aggressive legal strategy.

Related Charges

Preparing false evidence is part of a category called “obstruction of justice” crimes. Others include:

  • Perjury – Lying under oath during court testimony or proceedings (PC 118)
  • Destroying evidence – Hiding or destroying evidence needed for a court case (PC 135)
  • Offering false evidence – Presenting fake written evidence in court (PC 132)

Prosecutors often pile on multiple charges in hopes of getting a conviction. An attorney can look for ways to get charges reduced or dismissed through plea bargaining.

Get Help From an Attorney

Don’t go through this alone. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will protect your rights at every stage. They can evaluate your case, build defenses, negotiate with the prosecutor, and take your case to trial if needed. Having skilled legal representation greatly improves your chances of the best possible outcome.

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