Maybe it’s just human nature to try to cover everything up after committing a crime, but hiding evidence or trying to influence witnesses generally doesn’t help. In fact, in addition to bringing more charges, messing with the evidence can make you look guilty if your case goes to trial. However, tampering charges can be tough to prove. A tough criminal defense lawyer may be able to get these charges dismissed.
Tampering with Evidence and Tampering with a Witness are violations of Florida Criminal Procedure Statutes. There are stiff penalties involved, and it’s best to consult with an attorney. If you’ve been arrested in Florida, call 407-349-4211 for a free consultation with the criminal defense team at the Rivas Law Firm.
Tampering with Evidence
Since the government can’t investigate or prosecute crimes without it, they have strict laws to protect evidence. The tampering with evidence statute in Florida makes it a crime to “alter, destroy, conceal, or remove any record, document, or thing with the purpose to impair its verity or availability” in a judicial proceeding.
Tampering with evidence examples include throwing something like drugs or a gun from a car window when the police are chasing you. Hiding a body after a murder or washing a car that was used during a crime are also common examples of tampering with evidence.
The law also prohibits police and prosecutors from fabricating evidence. For example, prosecutors charged a Florida cop who pulled over drivers at random and planted drugs in their cars with nine counts of fabricating evidence.
Is Tampering with Evidence a Felony in Florida?
Tampering with evidence or fabricating evidence is a third-degree felony, which carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, plus probation and a fine of up to $5,000.
Tampering with a Witness
What is witness tampering in Florida? Trying to stop a witness in a legal proceeding from talking to police or testifying at a trial, or trying to get a witness to change their story, is a violation of Florida Statute 914.22. The law also applies to crime victims or informants.
Tampering with evidence examples include a case involving R&B singer R. Kelly. Kelly is facing numerous charges, including sexual assault, kidnapping, and obstruction of justice. One of Kelly’s accusers lives in Central Florida and was scheduled to testify against him. After someone set the woman’s car on fire, prosecutors charged an associate of Kelly’s with witness tampering and arson.
Is Tampering with a Witness a Felony?
Yes, witness tampering is a felony in Florida. The more serious the underlying charges, the more severe the penalty. For instance, tampering with a witness in a case involving a misdemeanor is a third-degree felony. If the original case involves a third-degree felony, the tampering charge is a second-degree felony, and so on. So the minimum penalty for witness tampering charges is up to five years in prison, plus probation and a fine of up to $5,000. But you can get up to life in prison for tampering with a witness in a capital case.
Tampering Charges Defense
To convict you of witness or evidence tampering, a prosecutor must be able to prove that you knowingly and intentionally committed the acts. If you spoke to a witness after a crime or in the course of a trial, a prosecutor would likely have to produce a recording or written evidence that explicitly demonstrates intimidation or bribery with the intent to influence testimony. If you are charged with evidence tampering, the state needs to prove that you knew the evidence related to an investigation or legal proceeding – and you destroyed or hid evidence intending to impede or obstruct the legal process.
An aggressive and experienced criminal defense attorney understands how prosecutors operate and knows how to hold them to account. If you’ve been arrested or face criminal charges in Florida, the Orlando criminal defense team at Rivas Law is ready to work for the best possible outcome in your case. Call 407-349-4211 today for a free consultation.