Collin County Evidence Tampering Lawyer
Evidence tampering is a process offense that could make things far worse for a potential defendant already being investigated. In thinking that they are making it harder for authorities to charge them, they actually pave the way for additional criminal charges. Anyone accused of this offense should speak with an evidence tampering lawyer in Collin County right away.
The Legal Definition of Evidence Tampering
According to Texas law, evidence tampering occurs when one “alters, destroys, or conceals any record, document, or thing with intent to impair its verity, legibility, or availability as evidence in the investigation or official proceeding.”
A classic example of this is when a suspect flushes drugs down the toilet when police are executing a search warrant. Or a person puts drugs into a drink cup or tries to throw them out the window when being pulled over for a traffic stop. It could also involve things like deleting emails or text messages that could be seized by law enforcement. Even deleting social media accounts could be viewed as tampering with evidence if done with knowledge of an active investigation. The key is that there must be an investigation open that the defendant knows about and is trying to hinder.
Penalties for Evidence Tampering
Texas treats evidence tampering very seriously. It can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor. If one is convicted of a felony, they could face between 2 and 10 years in prison. Even misdemeanors could result in jail time of up to one year in county jail and a $4,000 fine. In almost all cases, evidence tampering would be charged as a felony.
Evidence tampering is a crime that requires intent for it to be criminal. There is no such thing as accidentally committing this offense. One must not only know of the investigation, but they must specifically be trying to thwart it by removing or destroying evidence. If someone is routinely going through old emails or texts and deletes them without knowledge of an investigation, this would not be evidence tampering because they lack the intent. Similarly, if they lost a phone or it broke during an investigation, this would not be an intentional attempt to get in the way of a criminal probe.
The burden of proof is on the prosecutor to show that the defendant had intent to commit the crime. This is not always easy. A criminal defense attorney can present their client’s actions in a different light than the prosecutor, which could cast doubt on the charges. The two most common defenses are:
- Lack of knowledge - the defendant did not know that something that they were destroying was evidence
- Lack of intent - the defendant did not have the intent to actually thwart an investigation
The best thing is for a defendant not to be in this situation in the first place. They could contact a lawyer as soon as they know that they are under investigation for a possible criminal charge.
Learn How a Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
Attorney J. Michael Price can help guide you when you are on law enforcement’s radar screen, helping you avoid mistakes that could make your situation worse. Call us today at (214) 765-8000 or contact the law firm online to set up your free initial consultation.