What are the Consequences for Tampering with Evidence?
Evidence is critical when it comes to deciding civil and criminal cases. Judges and juries rely on evidence in determining whether someone is innocent or guilty, and the parties rely on evidence to support their case in a trial before the judge. For this reason, tampering with evidence is a serious offense, and the criminal justice system treats it as such. If someone tampers with evidence, they can face heavy fines and lengthy prison sentences as a result of it. This makes sense given that tampering with evidence can directly impede the implementation of justice, allowing an individual to avoid a sentence, or preventing someone from proving that they are innocent, or preventing one parent from getting custody in a custody hearing.
What is Tampering with Evidence?
Tennessee Code 39-16-503 is the law in Tennessee that defines what constitutes tampering with evidence or fabricating evidence. Legally, in order to be guilty of tampering with evidence, an individual must have:
- altered, destroyed, or concealed a document
- with the intention to impair its “verity, legibility or availability as evidence”
- in an investigation or official proceeding that is pending or in progress.
Or one can be guilty of tampering with evidence if one has
- made, presented, or used any document
- knowing it is false and
- intending to affect the course or outcome of an investigation or official proceeding that is pending or in progress.
If you suspect that evidence has been tampered with, or you have proof that evidence has been tampered with, it’s important to get help from an experienced attorney to try to make sure that the evidence is found to be inadmissible so it cannot affect the outcome of the trial.
Penalties for Evidence Tampering in Tennessee
In Tennessee, tampering with evidence is a serious offense that carries a heavy penalty. Those accused of tampering with evidence can be charged and convicted of a Class C felony. The penalty for a Class C felony in Tennessee is 3-15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. The best way to avoid this outcome or other harsh penalties is to have an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to advocate for you. A criminal defense attorney can work to try to get the charges against you dropped or reduced if there are procedural errors or other issues with your case and can work to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor. A plea bargain could be a plea of guilty or no contest to the offense charged or possibly a less serious offense that has less serious penalties. Talk to a criminal defense attorney to learn more about the options available to you. If you have been charged with a crime and cannot afford to hire an attorney, you should ask the court to appoint an attorney to represent you.
Schedule a Consultation With Judy A. Oxford, Attorney at Law
If you are facing charges of tampering with evidence in Tennessee, it is critical to have a dedicated legal advocate on your side. Judy A. Oxford, Attorney at Law, is ready to fight to get the charges against you dropped or reduced. Contact Judy A. Oxford, Attorney at Law, today, to schedule a consultation.