Tampering With Evidence
While many crimes prosecuted in Ohio are classified as “offenses against people” or “offenses against property,” the crime of tampering with evidence is classified as an “offense against justice and public administration.” This crime prohibits certain behaviors when an individual either knows that an official investigation or proceeding is in progress, is likely to be instituted, or will soon be in progress. These prohibited behaviors include:
- The alteration, destruction, concealment, or removal of records, documents, or other “things” when the offender is purposefully trying to impair the value or availability of that documentation or things to be used as evidence in the proceeding or investigation.
- The creation, presentation, or use of any record document or thing, if the offender knows it to be false and purposefully is aiming to corrupt the outcome of a proceeding or investigation or to mislead a public official who either is or may be engaged in the proceeding or investigation.
Ohio Tampering With Evidence Lawyer
If you’re under investigation for tampering with evidence, hire a qualified defense attorney you can trust. Joslyn Law Firm can investigate your arrest, and start building a solid defense that will protect your freedom and future. Allow us to give you the respect you deserve.
Joslyn Law Firm defends clients charged with criminal offenses in Franklin County and the surrounding counties, including Pickaway County, Madison County, Delaware County, Licking County and Fairfield County in Ohio. Call today at Joslyn Law Firm to receive an initial consultation about your case.
- Penalties for Tampering With Evidence
- Statute Of Limitations
- Defenses for Tampering with Evidence
- Additional Resources
The grading of a tampering with evidence charge is a felony of the third degree. The punishments associated with a third-degree felony are the same as the general punishments of felonies of the fourth and fifth degrees, with one notable exception. When charged with a felony of the third degree, there is a rebuttable presumption that the offender should be subjected to a term in prison. This sentence is different from the terms of imprisonment in jail or residential facilities that felons convicted of offenses in the fourth and fifth degrees are subject to.
If a term in prison is ordered, the jail and residence options outlined in Ohio’s community control sanctions will not apply to an individual convicted of tampering with evidence. However, any or all of the remaining sanctions may also be ordered in addition to the prison term. If a term in prison is not ordered, any of these sanctions (and other similar sanctions) could be ordered during the sentencing of someone convicted of tampering with evidence:
- A term of up to six months at a county community-based correctional facility or jail
- A term of residence in an alternative residential facility
- Community service requirements of no more than five hundred hours
- A term of house arrest with or without electronic monitoring
- A term of basic or intensive probation supervision
- A term of monitored time and/or imposed curfew
- A requirement that the offender obtain education, employment, or job training
- Reimbursement of costs related to these sanctions that are incurred by the government
The statute of limitations for tampering with evidence is six years because this offense is graded as a felony. After six years have passed since the offense, no new charges can be filed related to the alleged criminal wrongdoing.
The primary defense used to guard against tampering with evidence charges is that the alleged offender had no intent to tamper with evidence. Not all crimes require intent in order to be prosecuted. For example, in the case of statutory rape, it does not matter if an offender knew that the minor in question had not yet reached the age of 13 when the sexual activity between them took place. However, in tampering with evidence cases, the prosecution must prove that the alleged offender intended to tamper with the evidence in question. If this cannot be proven, the elements of the crime can’t be fully met.
Another potentially effective defense is referred to as the mistake of fact defense. Essentially, the individual would argue that while they did destroy or alter the evidence in question, they did not know or have a solid reason to know that the evidence was relevant to a legal proceeding. Mistake of fact is also a defense strategy rooted in a clear lack of requisite intent.
A Guide to Understanding Mens Rea – Before an individual can be found guilty of tampering with evidence, the state must prove that they intended to tamper with the evidence in question. Intent – for the purpose of criminal law – is known as “mens rea.” This guide can help those unfamiliar with the concept learn more about it.
The Federal Tampering with Evidence Code – While many tampering with evidence charges are brought as state crimes, others are brought as federal crimes. This is the law that governs federal tampering with evidence charges.
Ohio Tampering With Evidence Attorney | Joslyn Law Firm
As that potential penalty indicates, tampering with evidence is a serious charge. If you have been arrested for tampering with evidence, do not go to court without talking to an experienced Ohio criminal defense attorney. At Joslyn Law Firm, our lawyers are prepared to advise you, fight for your rights, and do everything possible to protect your future.