Florida’s Laws Against Tampering with Evidence
In a criminal trial, the prosecutor presents documents, records, statements, and other objects as evidence to build their case against a defendant. Because of this, a person can face severe penalties if they destroy anything that could potentially be submitted during the trial.
Destroying or Altering Physical Evidence
Florida Statute 918.13 prohibits tampering with or fabricating physical evidence. Specifically, if a person knows that a criminal trial or investigation is pending, and they falsify, hide, wreck, or remove anything that could be used as evidence, they could be charged with a third-degree felony. It is also illegal for the individual to make or provide anything they know to be fake to anyone involved in the criminal proceedings. A conviction for this offense is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
To prove that an individual tampered with evidence, the prosecutor must show that the defendant:
- Knew that there was an investigation or trial on the horizon
- Knew the object or document they destroyed or altered was evidence
- Destroyed the evidence with the intent to impair its ability to be used in the investigation or court
Harassing Individuals Who Could Testify in or Provide Physical Evidence for the Case
The prosecutor’s case may also rely on testimony or information provided by witnesses, victims, and/or informants. Florida Statute 914.22 makes it against the law to threaten, use physical force, or use any form of intimidation against another person to prevent them from providing statements, records, or other items to individuals involved in the investigation of a crime. Under this statute, it is also unlawful to coerce another individual to make false statements to investigators or prosecutors.
Violators of this law could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. The level is determined by the crime that is being investigated and depends on whether the defendant tampered with or harassed the other individual.
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