What is “Tampering with Evidence?”
Some of the scenarios that might result in a tampering with evidence charge include:
- Swallowing or flushing an illegal substance, e.g. illegal drugs or pills, to avoid arrest
- Hiding a firearm used to commit a crime
- Shredding documents subpoenaed by the court
- Destroying a device, e.g. a computer or mobile phone, or erasing files on a computer when these items are sought as evidence
Frequently, an individual who elects to conceal or destroy evidence elevates the matter from a misdemeanor to a felony offense. This decision also increases the severity of possible punishments.
Although a misdemeanor arrest is concerning, a felony conviction may be devastating. If you’re considering an action that could be considered tampering with evidence, don’t do it.
If you’re under investigation or facing charges of evidence tampering in Texas or via federal prosecution, engage an experienced criminal defense lawyer well-versed in federal and Texas laws.
Texas Penal Code § 37.09 (“Tampering with or Fabricating Physical Evidence”) states that an individual commits the offense if he or she knowingly “alters, destroys, or conceals” records, documents, or things with the intention to impair “verity, legibility, or availability as evidence” in an official proceeding or investigation, or “makes, presents, or uses” records, documents, or things with the “knowledge of its falsity” and with the intention “to affect the course or outcome” of an official proceeding or investigation.
Possible defenses may be raised in an evidence tampering charge. The two most common defenses include:
- Showing you didn’t realize the item(s) in question might be sought or used as evidence.
- Arguing you didn’t intend to interfere with any investigation when the evidence was altered.
If you have been accused of tampering with evidence, consult a criminal defense attorney to defend the case in court. This is a serious crime.
To discuss how you may challenge an evidence tampering charge in Texas, consult an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer now. Don’t consider representing yourself. A seasoned criminal defense lawyer will do everything possible to favor your chance of receiving a positive case outcome.
Protect Your Legal Rights
If you’re arrested on a tampering with evidence charge, or if investigators contact you, don’t make statements or agree to answer questions without the support of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. He will review the legal options available and do everything possible to mount an effective legal defense.
The decision to navigate the often confusing and challenging Texas or federal legal system is a big mistake. If convicted, a tampering with evidence charge may affect your future as well as the futures of those who depend on you. Your freedom is at risk.
Tampering with, or fabricating physical evidence, classified in Title 8 of the Texas Penal Code (“Offenses against Public Administration”) in Chapter 37 (“Perjury and Other Falsification”):
- In Texas, a tampering with evidence charge is considered a third-degree felony offense (Tex. Penal Code 37.09, subsection (a), subsection (d)(1).
- If convicted, the defendant faces two to 10 years on a Texas prison plus up to $10,000 in fines.
- The penalties are elevated in Texas if a human corpse is the evidence in question. In that case, the defendant faces a second-degree felony charge. If convicted, he or she faces up to 20 years’ incarceration and significant fines.
- Note: If the defendant knows about the presence of the corpse but doesn’t report it—even if he or she had no physical contact with it—he or she may face a Class A misdemeanor charge (Tex. Penal Code 37.09, subsection (d)(2). If convicted, he or she will do up to 12 months in a Texas county jail plus a $4,000 fine.
You may be charged with tampering with, or fabricating, physical evidence is a state’s attorney believes that the elements of Tex. Penal Code § 37.09(a) or (d) has been met.
Know that the Texas judicial system is very complex. It’s structured to enable the discovery of the truth. The decision to tamper or chance evidence in attempts to affect the outcome of any court case can result in criminal charges. The degree of available punishment depends on steps the actor took and how his or her alterations to evidence may have affected the case’s truths.
Consult evidence tampering attorney Brett Podolsky about your case>>
What is Tampering with Evidence in Texas?
The law says that tampering with evidence involves alteration, fabrication, or destruction of evidence when the act knows there’s an ongoing or pending investigation. He or she may be charged with tampering with evidence after hiding anything that might determine the case’s outcome:
- You may face tampering with evidence charges after altering records, documents, or anything else if you realize that these items might be helpful in an investigation.
- You might face tampering with evidence charges if you fail to report a human corpse (and you believe a crime was committed).
- Note that a relevant concealed item may be considered tampering with evidence unless it’s considered a privileged item.
Concealment of documents, records, or anything may also be considered tampering with evidence in an investigation. Before providing law enforcement agents with false documents, records, or fabricated items, or giving impressions that you’re doing so, consult with an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer to avoid the risk of additional criminal charges, e.g. tampering with, or fabricating, physical evidence.
Contact an Experienced Tampering with Evidence Lawyer in Houston TX
Each client’s case is unique. After consideration of the facts, a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer has many different ways to defend a tampering with evidence charge. In some cases, it may be possible to have a tampering with evidence charge reduced or completely dropped.
While a positive outcome is never guaranteed, the decision to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer is the best way to protect your legal rights.
The Law Office of Brett A. Podolsky will help you or your loved one to navigate the complex criminal justice system. Mr. Podolsky is a Texas board-certified criminal lawyer and former Texas Assistant Criminal District Attorney.
Call Mr. Podolsky now to request an initial case evaluation at 713-227-0087.