Tampering With Physical Evidence in New York
Tampering with physical evidence is generally illegal in New York. It involves altering, destroying, hiding, or fabricating physical evidence to interfere with an investigation or legal proceeding. Some examples of tampering with evidence include:
- Destroying or hiding a murder weapon
- Deleting incriminating files on a computer
- Planting drugs or weapons on someone to frame them
- Altering documents or photos submitted as evidence
There are specific laws in New York against tampering with evidence that can lead to criminal charges. The main law is NY Penal Law § 215.40 which makes it a felony crime to alter, destroy, conceal or fabricate physical evidence with intent to prevent its availability in an official proceeding or investigation.
Some potential defenses that may apply in certain tampering cases include:
- Duress – the defendant felt threatened or coerced into tampering with evidence
- Entrapment – law enforcement induced the defendant into committing the crime
- Lack of intent – the defendant did not realize they were tampering with relevant evidence
However, these defenses often do not succeed if there is strong evidence the defendant intentionally tampered with evidence relevant to a criminal case.
The implications of tampering with evidence are serious. At minimum, it undermines the integrity of the judicial process and can lead to wrongful convictions or acquittals. It also damages public trust in the justice system. Those caught tampering face heavy fines, years in prison, and permanent damage to their reputations and careers. The risks make it a crime best avoided.
Rather than tampering, the ethical approach is to be truthful and cooperate fully with any investigation. Consulting a defense attorney can help protect one’s rights without resorting to unethical acts. While details vary between jurisdictions, tampering with evidence is widely seen as obstructing justice with serious consequences.