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Miami Criminal Defense Attorney / Blog / Criminal Defense / What Happens If You Tamper with Physical Evidence in a Florida Criminal Case?

What Happens If You Tamper with Physical Evidence in a Florida Criminal Case?


There are a few things you need to keep in mind if you are ever arrested on suspicion of a crime in Florida. First, never try to tamper with potential evidence. If you intentionally alter or destroy any physical evidence, the state can charge you with a felony separate from the original charge.

Second, never ask someone to tamper with evidence on your behalf. This can lead to yet another criminal charge–conspiracy–and your co-conspirator can also be prosecuted. Finally, keep in mind that if you are in jail while awaiting trial, your telephone conversations, except for those with your criminal defense attorney, can be recorded and used against you as evidence at trial.

Florida Man Convicted After Asking Wife to Delete Cell Phone Data

A recent Florida criminal case, Cruz v. State, illustrates what happens if you ignore the advice described above. In this case, police arrested the defendant on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder following a shooting. At the time of his arrest, the defendant had his Android smartphone on him, which the police confiscated.

While in jail, the defendant spoke to his wife on the phone. During this call, the defendant asked his wife to login to his Google account and wipe his personal data so the police would find nothing if and when they searched the phone. The wife agreed to do so.

It turned out the police had already executed a search warrant for the phone and recovered a number of text messages related to the shooting. More to the point, law enforcement recorded the conversation between the defendant and his wife. This led prosecutors to charge the defendant with criminal conspiracy and criminal tampering with evidence.

A jury convicted the defendant on both charges. On appeal, the defense argued there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdict. The Florida Third District Court of Appeal rejected that and other arguments in affirming the defendant’s convictions. The appellate court pointed to the recording of the phone call where the defendant “plainly instructed the wife to delete the data on [his] cellphone, and told her how to do it, so the police could not obtain the data.”

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To reiterate, tampering with evidence in a Florida criminal case is not a “slap on the wrist” offense. In most cases it is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in state prison. And if the evidence relates to a capital case, tampering is a second-degree felony, which carries a maximum prison term of 15 years.

Obviously, if you are facing a serious criminal charge, you want to do everything in your power to avoid a conviction. But do not make things worse by tampering with evidence. Your best bet is always to work with an experienced Miami criminal defense attorney who can review your case and identify legal ways to defend yourself, such as challenging the admission of evidence at trial. Contact Asilia Law Firm today to schedule an initial consultation.



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