Tampering With Evidence
When conducting criminal investigations, police officers are often overzealous and pressured into making an arrest and charging the accused with a crime. Even when evidence is lacking, officers can sometimes find a way to stick you with criminal charges that can significantly affect your life. The legislature of our state is sometimes complicit with law enforcement and writes statutes that can be interpreted by police to justify arrests in many circumstances. If you feel as though you have been wrongfully arrested, call an experienced St. Petersburg criminal lawyer right away.
One of the criminal laws commonly used to justify arrests with little evidence is the charge of tampering with evidence. Sometimes, police conduct investigations or make arrests and end up empty handed. Those same police can then claim that a suspect “destroyed” or “hid” evidence in the process of the investigation, justifying detention and arrest just because they were unable to find evidence that may have never existed. This type of practice is unfortunately pervasive when dealing with drug possession crimes, but extends to all kinds of criminal investigations.What is Tampering With Evidence
Pursuant to Florida Statute 918.13 “no person, knowing 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 be instituted, shall: alter, destroy, conceal, or remove any record, document, or thing with the purpose to impair its verity or availability in such proceeding or investigation.” A violation of this law is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment along with fines and probation.
The Tampering with Evidence statute is written in a way to allow prosecutors to charge defendants in a wide array of factual scenarios. And because the law requires that a person actually destroy or conceal evidence relevant to an investigation, sometimes there is no evidence at all. People have been charged with tampering with evidence when officers suspect a drug crime to be happening but do not actually find any drugs. Officer will attempt to describe facts that indicated that the suspect either hid or consumed the contraband in order to charge them with tampering. If you have found yourself in a similar situation, you should not hesitate to call a skilled St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer to build your defense.
You can also be charged with tampering with evidence if you are accused of “making, presenting, or using any record, document, or thing, knowing it to be false.” This scenario arises if, during the course of a criminal investigation, you try to provide false evidence to the investigating authority in order to try to clear your name. Some people try to do this in an ill fated effort to exonerate themselves of criminal charges by taking matters into their own hands. In order to avoid falling into this trap, you should never try to challenge criminal charges on your own. Instead, reach out to an attorney to help you develop a defense that does not further break the law.
A skilled and experienced St. Petersburg criminal lawyer can sometimes make all the difference in your case. Whether you are being investigated or have already been charged with a criminal offense, a lawyer can get involved and find holes in your case that you might never have realized were there. Often, a respected attorney can convince the prosecutors about the lack of truthfulness from police and witnesses, affecting the outcome of your case. In tampering cases, a dedicated attorney may be able to pointe out the lack of evidence to the prosecutor handling your case, which can result in the reduction of charges or sometimes outright dismissal.Speak to Our Lawyers Today
The attorneys at Hanlon Law have experience dealing with a wide range of criminal matters including tampering with evidence. If you need to speak with a lawyer, don’t hesitate to call us today at 727-897-5413.