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Tampering with Evidence Lawyers in Orlando, FL

Tampering with Evidence in Florida: A Comprehensive Guide by an Experienced Attorney

Understanding the crime of tampering with evidence is crucial, especially in the state of Florida. This article provides a detailed overview of the elements and penalties associated with this crime, as well as potential defenses.

What are the Elements of Tampering with Evidence in Florida?

Under Sec. 918.13, Florida Statutes, the elements of Tampering with Evidence in Florida are as follows:

  • A person knew that a criminal trial or investigation was pending or about to be instituted; AND
  • The person either:
    • Altered, destroyed, concealed, or removed any record, document, or thing with the purpose of impeding its use in such a proceeding or investigation; or
    • Made, presented, or used any record, document, or thing when the person knew it was false.

What are the Penalties for Tampering with Evidence in Florida?

Tampering with Evidence is a third-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to 5 years of prison or probation, and a $5,000 fine.

Based On Penalty
Tampering with evidence to prevent its use in a proceeding or investigation Up to 5 years of prison or probation, and a $5,000 fine
Fabricating evidence Up to 5 years of prison or probation, and a $5,000 fine

Under the Criminal Punishment Code, the charge carries a severity level of 3 (or 16 points) if based on tampering with evidence to prevent its use in a proceeding or investigation, or a severity level of 1 (or 4 points) if based on fabricating evidence. In either case, assuming there are no aggravating circumstances (such as prior criminal convictions), there is no minimum mandatory sentence. This means that even though the judge can sentence you up to the maximum prison time, the judge is not required to order any amount of prison time.

How Can I Fight a Charge of Tampering with Evidence in Florida?

There are several strategies that can be employed to fight a charge of tampering with evidence in Florida. Here are some potential defenses:

Abandonment of Evidence:

This is a common situation where a suspect drops evidence—such as controlled substances—on the ground upon seeing police and flees. Florida courts have held that this fact alone does not constitute Tampering with Evidence, as the evidence is not being altered, destroyed, or concealed. However, if the suspect takes actions that can prevent police from obtaining the evidence, such as swallowing it or dropping it somewhere that is inaccessible, then that can support a charge of Tampering with Evidence.

Motion to Suppress:

This is a legal tactic where the defense argues that certain evidence should not be considered by the court because it was obtained in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights. If successful, the suppressed evidence cannot be used against the defendant in court.

Alibi Defense:

This is a defense strategy where the defendant provides evidence that they were somewhere else at the time the alleged crime took place, and therefore could not have committed the crime.

Insufficient Evidence:

This defense strategy involves demonstrating that the prosecution’s evidence is not strong enough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime.

FAQs

1. What constitutes ‘tampering with evidence’ in a digital context?

In a digital context, tampering with evidence can involve actions like deleting emails, altering digital records, or using software to hide or change digital footprints.

2. Can tampering with evidence charges be filed if the investigation hasn’t officially started?

Yes, charges can be filed if a person knew an investigation was about to be instituted and they tampered with potential evidence to impede its use in the upcoming investigation.

3. What’s the difference between ‘tampering with evidence’ and ‘fabricating evidence’?

‘Tampering with evidence’ typically involves altering, destroying, or concealing existing evidence. ‘Fabricating evidence’, on the other hand, involves creating or presenting false evidence with the intent to mislead.

4. Can a person be charged with tampering with evidence if they were not involved in the original crime?

Yes, a person can be charged with tampering with evidence even if they were not involved in the original crime. If they knowingly alter, destroy, or conceal evidence related to an ongoing or upcoming investigation, they can face charges.

5. What role does intent play in a charge of tampering with evidence?

Intent is a crucial element in a charge of tampering with evidence. The prosecution must prove that the person acted with the specific intent to disrupt a criminal trial or investigation.

Contact Us Now to Fight Your Criminal Case

Prosecutors are usually difficult and non-compromising. They’ll employ all their resources to put you in jail for a prolonged period even if that involves going over the edge using shady tactics, such as hiding evidence or manipulating eyewitnesses.

Leppard Law Defense lawyers work tirelessly on your behalf to create an effective defense plan to stop these kinds of tactics used by prosecutors trying to intimidate you in the courtroom.

Don’t go at it by yourself when faced with criminal charges. Contact Leppard Law Defense Lawyers today for a free review of your case. Call 407-476-4111

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