Miami Tampering with Evidence/Witness Attorney
If you are facing charges for tampering with a witness or tampering with evidence, you must consult with an experienced Miami tampering with evidence attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options and defend yourself against the charges.
Tampering with a witness and tampering with evidence are two separate crimes in Florida, each with its own distinct legal definition and penalties. Tampering with a witness is attempting to influence or intimidate a witness in a criminal trial, proceeding, or investigation. On the other hand, tampering with evidence refers to altering, destroying, concealing, or removing any record, document, or thing with the intent of impairing its availability or verity in an ongoing criminal trial, proceeding, or law enforcement investigation. You will have a criminal record if you are convicted of either of these crimes, which can make finding employment, housing, and other opportunities more challenging. A conviction not only carries criminal penalties but can also have severe emotional, financial, and reputational consequences.
What is Tampering with Evidence?
In Florida, tampering with evidence is committed when a person with knowledge of an ongoing criminal investigation destroys evidence to impair its availability for use in the investigation.
Under Florida Statute 918.13, the crime of tampering with evidence is committed when a person, knowing that a criminal trial, proceeding, or law enforcement investigation is pending or instituted, either:
- Alters, destroys, conceals, or removes any record, document, or thing with the purpose to impair its verity or availability in such trial, proceeding or investigation; or
- Knowingly creates, presents, or uses any false record, document, or thing.
Penalties for Tampering with Evidence
The crime of tampering with evidence is a third-degree felony in Florida and is punishable by up to five (5) years in prison, five (5) years of probation, and $5,000 in fines.
Defenses to Tampering with Evidence
Some potential defenses to the crime of tampering with evidence include:
- Lack of intent: For the act of tampering with evidence to be considered a crime, the person must have had the intent to impair the verity or availability of the evidence. If a person did not have this intent, they could not be convicted of tampering with evidence.
- Removing from Body: Discarding evidence from one’s person, such as throwing drugs on the ground when police are approaching, does not constitute the crime of tampering with evidence. Instead, to constitute tampering with evidence, some action must be taken to alter or destroy the evidence rather than remove it from one’s person.
- Unofficial Investigation or Proceeding: A person does not commit the crime of tampering with evidence if they tamper with evidence used in an unofficial investigation or proceeding, such as a disciplinary investigation being conducted by a school.
- Right to preserve evidence: Sometimes, a person might tamper with evidence to preserve it from being destroyed or lost. This might be used as a defense if a person has a legal right to preserve the evidence and acted in good faith in the preservation of it.
- Mistake of fact: If a person believed that the evidence in question was not relevant to the investigation or trial and therefore tampered with it, they might be able to use a mistake of fact defense.
- Coercion or duress: If a person was forced or threatened to tamper with evidence, they might be able to use a defense of coercion or duress.
The defenses in one case may not apply to another, and the court will take the specific circumstances of each case into account. You should consult a criminal defense attorney to evaluate your case and advise you on the best defense strategy.
What is Tampering with a Witness?
Under Florida Statute 914.22, tampering with a witness is committed when a person tries to influence a witness, victim, or informant in an official investigation or proceeding by using:
- Intimidation or physical force
- Misleading conduct
- Offering pecuniary benefits or gain
This can happen when someone tries to make someone do these things:
- Withhold testimony, records, documents, or other evidence from an official investigation or proceeding
- Alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal evidence with the intent to impair its integrity or availability for use in an official investigation or proceeding
- Evade a subpoena to appear or to produce tangible evidence in an official investigation or proceeding
- Be absent from an official proceeding to which such person has been subpoenaed
- Hinder, delay, or prevent the communication of information relating to a crime or violation of probation, parole, or release to a law enforcement officer or judge
- Testify untruthfully in an official investigation or proceeding
Harassment of a Witness
Florida law also makes it illegal to harass a witness.
A person commits harassment of a witness if they intentionally harass a person which hinders, delays, prevents, or dissuades the person from:
- Attending or testifying in an official proceeding or cooperating in an official investigation;
- Reporting to a law enforcement officer or judge the commission or possible commission of an offense or a violation of a condition of probation, parole, or release pending a judicial proceeding;
- Arresting or seeking the arrest of another person in connection with an offense; or
- Causing a criminal prosecution, or a parole or probation revocation proceeding, to be sought or instituted, or from assisting in such prosecution or proceeding;
- or attempts to do so, commits the crime of harassing a witness, victim, or informant.
Penalties for Tampering with a Witness
The maximum punishment for tampering with a witness is determined by the offense level of the official investigation or official proceeding that the individual is accused of trying to influence.
In Florida, different levels of felonies carry different maximum punishments. For example, a third-degree felony has a maximum punishment of 5 years and a fine of $5,000, while a first-degree felony has a maximum punishment of life in prison and a fine of $10,000.
The higher the offense level of the affected official investigation or official proceeding, the more severe the maximum punishment will be. For example, if the official investigation or proceeding is related to a life or capital felony, the punishment will be a life felony, and the maximum punishment will be life in prison and a fine of $15,000.
Note that the maximum punishment is the maximum sentence a judge may impose, but depending on the specific circumstances of a case, the actual sentence may be lower. The offender’s previous criminal history, the severity of the offense, and whether the offender cooperated with the authorities are just a few of the factors to consider.
Penalties for Harassment of a Witness
Like the penalties for tampering with a witness, the punishment for this crime is determined by the offense level of the official investigation or official proceeding that the individual is accused of trying to influence. The punishment ranges from a misdemeanor of the first degree for a misdemeanor investigation or proceeding to a felony of the first degree punishable by a term of years not exceeding life for a life or capital felony investigation or proceeding. The punishment also varies depending on the level of the affected official investigation or official proceeding, being a first, second, or third-degree or indeterminable.
Defenses to Tampering with a Witness
Several potential defenses can be used in a case of tampering with a witness. Some of the most common include:
- Lack of intent: To be convicted of tampering with a witness, the prosecution must prove that the individual intended to influence the witness’s testimony or behavior. If the individual can show that their actions were not done to influence the witness, they may be able to have the charges dismissed.
- Insufficient evidence: The prosecution must have enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual committed the crime of tampering with a witness. If the prosecution’s evidence is weak or circumstantial, the defense may be able to argue that there is not enough evidence to convict the individual.
- Unofficial Investigation or Proceeding: A person does not commit the crime of Tampering with Evidence if they tamper with evidence used in an unofficial investigation or proceeding, such as a disciplinary investigation being conducted by a school.
- False accusations: Sometimes, individuals may be falsely accused of tampering with a witness. In this case, the defense can present evidence to show that the allegations are false, such as an alibi or other evidence that proves the accused was not present at the time of the alleged crime.
- Mistaken identity: The defense may argue that the individual being accused is not the person who committed the crime.
- Duress: If the individual can prove that they committed the crime because they were under duress, such as if someone threatened them or their loved ones, they may be able to have their charges reduced or dismissed.
Contact an Experienced Miami Tampering with a Witness/Evidence Attorney
If you have been accused of tampering with evidence or tampering with a witness in Miami, it is crucial that you contact an experienced Miami tampering with a witness attorney right away. At our law firm, we understand that being charged with a crime can be a stressful and overwhelming experience, and we are here to guide you through the legal process and protect your rights.
Our team of experienced attorneys has a thorough understanding of the laws and statutes related to tampering with evidence and tampering with a witness charges. We have a wealth of experience in the court system and know how to navigate it effectively to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
We are well-versed in the strategies and tactics of the prosecution and will use our knowledge to anticipate their moves and counter them effectively. Our attorneys have strong negotiation skills and will work tirelessly to negotiate with the prosecution to get the charges reduced or dismissed.
We understand that every case is unique, and we will work closely with you to develop a personalized defense strategy tailored to your specific needs and circumstances. Our attorneys will be by your side every step of the way, ensuring that your rights are protected and that you are fully informed about the progress of your case.
If the case goes to trial, our attorneys will do everything they can to present a compelling defense on your behalf. We believe in providing aggressive, effective, and compassionate representation, and we will fight tirelessly to defend your rights and achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
Don’t hesitate to contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys. We are here to help you and guide you through this difficult time.
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