Tampering with evidence is a felony charge under Florida law and can lead to a prison sentence. Unfortunately it is not uncommon for the state to prosecute people for this offense even if they don’t have a lot of evidence to support the charges. If you or a friend are charged with tampering with evidence (also called TAMP4000 TAMPERING WITH PHYSICAL EVIDENCE (DESTROY)) do not go to court without talking to an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney.
Tampering with physical evidence is defined in Florida Statute 918.13(1). Section (a) of Florida Statute 918.13(1) prohibits the altering, concealing, destroying or removing any potential evidence while section (b) prohibits the falsification of evidence. The prosecutor will have to prove the following elements at trial:
• The defendant either altered, destroyed, removed or concealed a “record, documents or thing”
• The defendant at the time of doing so knew that “a criminal trial or proceeding or an investigation by a duly constituted prosecuting authority, law enforcement agency, grand jury or legislative committee of this state is pending” or is about to begin. OR the defendant knowingly made or presented a falsified record, document or other evidence.
• The defendant destroyed or altered the evidence to ensure that the evidence is not available for the trial, investigation or proceeding.
Under Florida Statute 918.13(3) tampering with evidence is a 3rd degree felony and punishable by up to $5,000 and 5 years in prison. The severity of the sentence does not change depending on the underlying charge. This means that someone who destroyed evidence in order to escape a murder charge and and someone who destroyed evidence to escape a misdemeanor prosecution for possession of marijuana faces the same possible punishment of 5 years in prison.
As with any other charge, there are some specific defenses that an experienced criminal defense attorney can explore in your case in order to achieve the best possible outcome for you and possibly even achieve a dismissal or not guilty verdict of the charges.
Florida case law has made it very clear that when a defendant simply throws potential evidence, such as a bag of drugs, out of the car window during a police stop, the defendant cannot be prosecuted for tampering with evidence. In order for the tampering charges to stick, the defendant has to take some kind of action that would ether destroy or alter the evidence.
If you are not facing an official investigation or proceeding or criminal trial, you cannot be charged with a crime for destroying, altering or falsifying evidence. This means that the state cannot prosecute you for tampering with evidence in an attempt to avoid an investigation by school officials.
Aside from representing clients for tampering with evidence charges, Kerstin Wade also represents people for other related offenses, such as tampering with a witness, retaliating against a witness and tampering with an electronic monitoring device.
Tampering with a witness is defined in Florida Statute 914.22(1) as:
• Knowingly intimidating, threatening or using physical force against another person • With the intent to cause the other person to
• Withhold testimony or a document
• Alter, conceal or destroy a document or object to avoid it being used in a proceeding • Testify untruthfully
• Evade communication with law enforcement or service of process
• Be absent from an official proceeding.
Tampering with a Witness can be classified as a felony of the 3rd degree, 2nd degree, 1st degree or even a life felony depending on the nature of the underlying charge or proceeding.
Retaliating against a witness is defined in Florida Statute 914.23 as:
• Knowingly causing bodily harm to another person or destroying the property of another person
• With the intent to retaliate against someone for being a witness or party in an official proceeding or for having provided information to law enforcement against a person.
Retaliating against a witness is a 3rd degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. The offense will be elevated to a 2nd degree felony if the conduct resulted in personal injury.
Tampering with an electronic monitoring device under Florida Statute 843.23 involves the tampering, destroying, altering or unlawful removal of either a Continuous Alcohol Monitor (CAM), a Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM) or a Global Positioning System (GPS) Monitor. It’s a 3rd degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
If you or a loved one is charged with either tampering with evidence, tampering with / or retaliating against a witness or tampering with an electronic monitoring device, contact Kerstin Wade today for a free consultation to see how we can help you. Kerstin Wade has an office in downtown Tampa and represents clients in the Tampa Bay area, including Hillsborough, Polk, Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota Counties. You can reach us at 813-401-0130.