California makes it a felony for prosecutors to withhold or alter exculpatory evidence
More than two years into a dispute over alleged misconduct by Orange County, California, prosecutors trying a multiple-murder case, the state of California has made it a felony crime to withhold exculpatory evidence.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the new state law makes it a felony, rather than a misdemeanor, for prosecutors to alter or intentionally withhold evidence that could be used to exonerate defendants. Violators of the law could be sentenced to up to three years in prison.
The sponsor of the law, Assemblywoman Patty Lopez of Los Angeles County, told the Times she was not directly inspired by allegations that prosecutors in Orange County planted jailhouse informants near high-profile defendants and withheld that information from defense lawyers. But the situation did help inform the debate, the article said, and it inspired supporters like the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, an advocacy and lobbying group for the defense bar.