Obstruction of Justice: Tampering with Evidence in Florida

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15th Aug 2023

Tampering with Evidence is a crime in Florida that takes place when someone who is aware of an ongoing criminal investigation removes or damages evidence in order to prevent it from being used in the inquiry.

Definition of Tampering with Evidence

Under Florida Statute Section 918.13, the crime of Tampering with Evidence is committed when a person, knowing that a criminal trial, proceeding, or investigation by a duly constituted prosecuting authority, law enforcement agency, grand jury or legislative committee of this state is pending or is about to be instituted, shall:

• Alter, destroy, conceal, or remove any record, document, or thing with the purpose to impair its verity or availability in such proceeding or investigation; or
• Make, present, or use any record, document, or thing, knowing it to be false.

Penalties for Tampering with Evidence

In the state of Florida, tampering with evidence is considered a third-degree crime, punishable by a maximum five-year prison term and a $5,000 fine.

Defenses to Tampering with Evidence

The following are the possible defenses to the crime of tampering with evidence, in addition to the pretrial and trial defenses that may be offered in any criminal case:

• Removing from Body. Throwing away evidence from one’s person, including throwing drugs on the ground when police are present, does not qualify as Tampering with Evidence. This crime can only be charged if someone changes or destroys evidence.
•Unofficial investigation or proceeding. A person can only be charged with Tampering with Evidence if he or she changes or destroys evidence in the midst of an official criminal investigation. The crime does not apply if a person tampers with evidence used in an unofficial proceeding or investigation, such as a disciplinary investigation conducted by a licensing board or school.