Evidence tampering is the act of altering, concealing, or destroying anything related to a legal investigation. This might lead to delay or difficulty in proceedings. People may become tempted to tamper with evidence in order to avoid incrimination or sentencing. However, this may instead lead to greater troubles, including increased jail time and fines.
What is Evidence Tampering?
Florida Statute 918.13 deals with tampering with evidence. This law defines evidence tampering as when a person alters, destroys, or conceals a record or physical evidence. Tampering is done with the intent of discrediting the use of that evidence, while being aware of its relevance to an ongoing or future investigation or criminal proceeding.
Two elements must be established beyond any reasonable doubt in order for the state of Florida to prove evidence tampering. The first is that the defendant had knowledge that a criminal proceeding or investigation is underway and is overseen by a duly constituted prosecuting authority.
The second is if the defendant knowingly tampered with evidence to purposely impair its use in an investigation. The same goes for evidence presented to the court by the defendant when the defendant knows that it has been falsified.
What Qualifies as Evidence Tampering?
There are several actions that may qualify as evidence tampering. These include, but are not limited to:
- Throwing away or swallowing of evidence upon being chased or confronted by law enforcement
- Wiping fingerprints from the scene of a crime
- Destroying or hiding items related to a crime with intent to impair the integrity or availability of the object
- Deleting emails and other electronic transactions that may prove incriminating
- Withholding testimony, records, documents, or other items from an investigation
- Evading legal summoning as an official witness, as well as failing to produce records, documents, or other objects in an investigation
- Being absent from a proceeding in which you have been legally summoned
- Hindering, delaying, or preventing of communications and relaying of information to law enforcement, relating to the violation of an offense or conditions of probation or parole
- Untruthful testifying in an official investigation or proceeding
The Consequences of Evidence Tampering
In the state of Florida, evidence tampering is considered a criminal offense. If committed, you will then be charged with a crime classified as a third-degree felony.
Anyone found guilty of evidence tampering may face up to 5 years in prison. In addition, there is a fine that may reach the amount of $5,000. Being convicted of evidence tampering can mean jail time, along with the creation of a criminal record.
Evidence tampering may seem like a move to protect yourself, but can result in very serious offenses. For all questions and inquiries about evidence tampering, contact Michael Gottlieb today. We offer unparalleled counsel when it comes to criminal law anywhere in the Sunshine State!