What is Considered Tampering with Evidence?
How Delaware defines and penalizes it
on May 16, 2019
Updated on June 29, 2022
Closely related to obstruction of justice and spoliation of evidence, tampering with evidence or destroying evidence involves intentional interference with an investigation or other legal proceedings. It is a serious criminal offense in Delaware. If you are concerned, you should seek legal advice from an experienced Delaware white collar criminal defense lawyer.
Under Delaware State criminal law, tampering with evidence and destruction of 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 official proceedings in court.
A Tampering with Evidence Charge
Similar to any other criminal offense, it is law enforcement officers and the prosecution that have 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 criminal 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, or planting a physical object, is a felony offense that is punishable by a state prison sentence. 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 you are arested immediately contact a Delaware white collar criminal defense attorney.
If the defendant is alleged to have tampered with a witness in conjunction with tampering with physical evidence or planting 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 of 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 contact a law firm with an experienced Delaware white collar criminal defense attorney right away to consult about your legal issues. Many attorneys offer a free consultation.