You are suspected of a crime. You try to conceal a gun by hiding it. You throw documents into an open fireplace. You may have illegal drugs you toss or flush down the toilet.
You have interfered with the work officers must do to charge you with a crime. You may have committed the crime of tampering with evidence. A gun, drugs, or drug paraphernalia could all be presented in a court proceeding as evidence of your guilt.
If you are under investigation for a crime, it may be tempting to destroy evidence but understand there are laws in Alabama that will be added to your criminal charges if you are caught.
What is Evidence?
The definition of evidence is fairly broad, but evidence may be an article, a document, a record, an object, or anything that is material and physical and pertains to your alleged crime.
When law enforcement issues a search warrant on a scene, there may be a list of personal property, homes, papers, or computers that can fall under the warrant. The warrant allows a search within reason. The court may eventually throw out any search outside the warrant’s scope.
Law enforcement generally knows what they are searching for, and that will be noted in the probable cause affidavit, which states that police reasonably believe that evidence of a crime will be found.
There are limits under the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution intended to protect you from any unreasonable search by the government.
Consider the following examples as tampering with potential evidence:
- Fingerprints – Wiping away fingerprints at a crime scene to cover up someone’s involvement
- Deleting Emails – Tampering with potential electronic evidence such as emails, shared documents, a search history that shows you had intended to commit a crime
- Untruthful Testimony – If you give false statements to investigators, that, too, could be considered evidence tampering. Include in that definition withholding testimony that would contribute to an investigation.
- Withholding Records – Evidence of a crime may be contained in documents, videos, or recordings. Withholding this potential evidence from police could be considered evidence tampering.
- Creating False Evidence – Conversely, tampering with evidence can involve creating a false paper trail or planting drugs or guns at a scene to point investigators in another direction.
If you are charged with tampering with physical evidence in Alabama, you may have destroyed, concealed, mutilated, removed, or altered in any way physical evidence that could be useful to the prosecutor in proving a criminal charge.
The charge also covers knowingly presenting false physical evidence or making a false statement to bolster your side.
If you are charged with evidence tampering, the judge will determine if the destruction, suppression, and concealment were deliberate and intended to alter the criminal investigation. The prosecutor must establish that the suspect tampered with evidence and did so knowingly and intentionally to impact the investigation.
If it is determined the suspect did try to conceal or destroy evidence of a crime, under Alabama law, that is considered a Class A misdemeanor which can result in jail time and fines.
Your Mobile, AL Criminal Attorney
It is not only the defendant; in some cases, law enforcement has been known to tamper with physical evidence. Attorney Jason Darley has seen examples where police will plant drugs, a gun, or drug paraphernalia on a suspect to justify an arrest and criminal charges.
When police destroy recorded evidence of the crime of officers’ misconduct, destruction of that record may be considered evidence tampering.
In other cases, inadequate evidence handling may have been unintentional. If you believe you may have unintentionally and unknowingly destroyed evidence, tell your criminal attorney Jason Darley. Mr. Darley may be able to argue that you did not intend to destroy evidence just because you inadvertently threw something away.
The Mistake of Fact argument supports that the defendant threw away things he did not think were relevant to any legal proceeding.
Attorney Jason Darley advocates for those facing criminal charges. If you have been charged with a crime or are about to, reach out to Mr. Darley in his Mobile, AL office at (251) 441-7772 to arrange a complimentary consultation to outline a defense plan for your future.