Not Reporting a Dead Body Is a Crime in Texas
Seeing a dead body at a funeral is difficult enough, but seeing a dead body out of context is even more so. The fact is that you are legally required to report such a sighting in the State of Texas. Such a sighting very likely amounts to evidence in a pending case – or to closure for a missing person case –and this makes it your civic responsibility (as well as your legal obligation) to report.
You likely know that it is illegal to tamper with evidence in a criminal case. Evidence plays a pivotal role in whether a defendant will be found innocent or guilty in the case in question. As such, there are laws that prohibit anyone from tampering with relevant evidence. It is interesting to note, however, that one variant of tampering is inaction (rather than actively tampering with the evidence at hand) – and this is where not reporting a dead body comes into play as a form of witness tampering.
What Constitutes Tampering
In the State of Texas, all of the following qualify as evidence tampering (where evidence amounts to anything that could have been presented by either side during a trial):
Presenting false information as evidence
The act of failing to report a corpse, however, is in a class of its own under the larger classification of evidence tampering.
Failure to Report a Corpse
All of the following elements related to the charge of failing to report a corpse (which is its own form of witness tampering):
Seeing a corpse and reasonably surmising that the death was predicated on a criminal offense
Knowing that law enforcement is unaware of the corpse
Failing to report what you have found
Anytime you come across a corpse, it is almost universally reasonable to surmise that a criminal offense was – or easily could have been – involved and that law enforcement is unaware of the situation. While coming across a corpse may leave you with an overwhelming urge to hightail it out of there as quickly as you can and to put the incident as far behind you as possible, this is not only the wrong thing to do but is also a crime.
Evidence Tampering and Attendant Penalties
Texas takes evidence tampering, including failure to report a corpse, extremely seriously, and a conviction can carry hefty fines and penalties. A charge of failure to report a corpse typically results in either a Class A misdemeanor or a third-degree felony, and both of these can carry thousands of dollars in fines and time behind bars.
Reach out to an Experienced Killeen Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard – proudly serving Killeen, Texas – is an esteemed criminal defense attorney who dedicates his practice to skillfully advocating for his clients’ most favorable case resolutions. Our practiced legal team is on your side, so please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 for more information about how we can help you today.