Evidence tampering is both a federal crime and a crime in the State of Texas. Accidental destruction in Texas, however, is not likely to rise to the level of evidence tampering, which also makes the fact that you accidentally destroyed evidence a solid defense strategy. If you are facing a charge of evidence tampering, you need an experienced Waco criminal defense attorney in your corner.
The Crime of Evidence Tampering in Texas
In Texas, the crime of Tampering with or Fabricating Physical Evidence involves one of the following:
- Deliberately destroying, suppressing, or hiding physical evidence
- Preparing, offering, or in any other way using any document, record, or nearly anything else to purposefully alter the direction or results of an investigation or official proceeding (or of a later, related investigation or official proceeding)
Common Examples of Evidence Tapering
Common examples of evidence tampering in the State of Texas include:
- Swallowing illegal drugs or flushing them down a toilet just prior to discovery by the authorities
- Tossing a gun used in a crime out of the window of a moving car or into a body of water
- Shredding and/or burning documents that contain evidence
- Burying a dead body in an attempt to bury evidence of a crime
In relation to that dead body, it is also a form of evidence tampering to fail to report a dead body to the authorities when you know or reasonably should know that the police are unaware of the body and reasonable people would reasonably conclude that the dead body is indicative of someone having committed a crime. This version of evidence tampering is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries up to a year behind bars and a fine of up to $4,000.
Crime and Punishment
Evidence tampering of the standard variety is a more serious crime and can leave you facing a third-degree felony charge that carries from 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The Requirement of Specific Intent
Evidence tampering is a specific intent crime. This means that when the accused destroyed the evidence in question, he or she had to have intended to destroy evidence of a crime. The four elements of a successful evidence tampering charge include the following:
- The intent identified above
- Knowledge (that the destruction could influence an investigation)
- Evidence (recognizing that the destroyed documents were evidence, to begin with)
- Awareness of a potential or pending investigation
Consult with an Experienced Attorney Today
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Waco, Texas, is a formidable criminal defense attorney who takes great pride in defending the legal rights of clients like you – in pursuit of their claims’ most beneficial case resolutions. We are here to help you, too, so please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 for more information today.