When law enforcement officials suspect criminal activity in any context, it is common for a criminal investigation to be initiated. This means that effort is made to gather all relevant information relating to the crime. In order to maintain the integrity of the investigation, it is vital that all evidence is maintained and preserved in its original state.
This is why law enforcement does everything that they can to disincentivize the destruction of evidence during a criminal investigation. It is common for evidence to be unintentionally destroyed or contaminated. For example, if a person burgled your home, you may unintentionally destroy evidence by going through your home after the incident to try to learn what was taken. However, it is also common for those with a vested interest in the investigation to tamper with or otherwise contaminate evidence intentionally.
If you have been accused of tampering with evidence in a criminal investigation, it is important that you take this very seriously. By taking the time to understand the law in Texas and the key elements of the crime, you will be able to develop a compelling defense.
What are the elements of the offense?
In order to be charged with tampering with evidence, certain elements need to be proven. You may be able to defend yourself by proving that one or more elements of the crime were not present.
First, you must have had the intent to tamper with evidence. If you can show that you accidentally destroyed evidence without realizing it, you cannot be charged.
In order to be charged, you should also have an awareness of the seriousness of your actions, and of the impact that this will have on a criminal investigation. Additionally, there needs to be proof that you did, in fact, destroy some type of evidence, whether physical or digital.
You should also have knowledge of the upcoming investigation. If you destroyed material intentionally but you did not know that this material would be involved in an investigation, you cannot be charged with a crime.
It is important that you are able to competently defend yourself if you have been accused of tampering with evidence. By planning ahead, you will be able to tailor your defense to the individual circumstances.