What is Considered Tampering with Evidence?

How Delaware defines and penalizes it

Closely related to obstruction of justice and spoliation of evidence, tampering with evidence involves intentional interference with an investigation or other legal proceedings. It is a serious criminal offense in Delaware.

Under state law, tampering with evidence is defined in a relatively broad manner. A defendant could potentially be charged with this offense—a felony—if they destroy, alter, conceal, or falsify any evidence related to an ongoing criminal investigation or court proceedings.

A Tampering with Evidence Charge

Similar to any other criminal offense, it is the prosecution that has the legal burden of proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Under Delaware law, a person can be charged with the offense of tampering with physical evidence if they:

  • Knowingly alter evidence, destroy evidence, or produce false evidence
  • And did so with the intent of impacting an official investigation or legal proceeding

In tampering with evidence cases, intent is the key element of the crime. A person who destroys evidence, even critically important evidence, is not guilty of this offense unless they did so with the express intent of affecting the outcome of a law enforcement investigation, a criminal trial, or another official legal proceeding. In many cases, tampering charges are defended on the grounds that there was no intent.

Tampering Can Be Charged as a Felony Offense

In Delaware, tampering with physical evidence is a felony offense that is punishable by jail time. More specifically, tampering as charged under the law is a Class G felony. The maximum penalty for this type of offense is up to two years in prison along with significant monetary penalties.

If the defendant is alleged to have tampered with a witness in conjunction with tampering with physical evidence, they could also be charged with an additional criminal offense. It should also be noted that some defendants who are facing tampering charges are also facing other criminal charges, so the collective punishment could be far more severe.

Facing Tampering Charges?

Tampering with evidence is a complicated charge. To convict a defendant on this offense, the prosecution must be able to establish the defendant altered, destroyed, concealed, or falsified evidence and that they did so with the actual intent to impact official legal proceedings. Absent sufficient proof of this, a defendant cannot be convicted of this offense. If you are being investigated for tampering with evidence or you are being charged with tampering with evidence or any related offense, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced Delaware criminal defense attorney right away.

For more information on this area of law, see our overviews of criminal defense and federal crimes.

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