In criminal justice, it's often not the initial act that gets people into trouble but the cover-up. Tampering with evidence or falsifying records can lead to grave consequences under Arizona state and federal laws.
To falsify, obstruct, or alter key pieces of evidence is no minor offense. It’s an act that can turn an already severe situation into a much more complicated one.
In this article, we'll discuss the following topics:
- Understanding the Scope of 18 U.S.C. 1510: Prohibits Preventing a Witness or Victim from Reporting Crimes or Complying with Law Enforcement
- Overview of 18 U.S.C. § 1506: Theft or Alteration of Records
- Comparing Arizona Revised Statutes and Federal Laws on Evidence Tampering
- Penalties for Tampering with Physical Evidence: Federal and Arizona Laws
- Defending Against Charges of Evidence Tampering and Obstructing Investigations
Evidence tampering becomes a significant issue, with an estimated 10% of convicted offenders being innocent of the crimes for which they are convicted. Yet, despite these high stakes, laws around tampering with physical evidence aren't as well-known or understood as they should be.
Here at the Kolsrud Law Office, we've spent countless hours navigating the intricacies of these laws. Understanding what these laws entail, the differences between state and federal regulations, potential penalties, and how to effectively defend against such charges is essential.
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Understanding the Scope of 18 U.S.C. 1510
18 U.S.C. 1510 forms a crucial part of the legal framework in the United States, specifically designed to combat acts of obstruction. It addresses actions that might prevent a witness or victim from reporting a crime or cooperating with law enforcement. The stringent law promotes an environment where justice can be served freely, without fear or favor.
This law broadly covers actions that might indirectly intimidate, threaten, or otherwise dissuade a witness from cooperating. As such, it's essential to grasp its scope. Acts as seemingly innocent as suggesting something to a witness for their testimony might face repercussions that could fall under the purview of 18 U.S.C. 1510.
However, the intent also plays a significant role here. The statute applies to those who intentionally obstruct, delay or prevent the communication of information relating to a violation of any criminal statute to a criminal investigator.
Overview of 18 U.S.C. § 1506: Theft or Alteration of Records
Under the United States Code, 18 U.S.C. § 1506 is another critical regulation that outlines offenses related to the theft or alteration of records. Given how often the two crimes intersect, it goes hand in hand with laws against evidence tampering. The statute covers many offenses, from stealing court records to willfully altering or falsifying such documents.
In essence, anyone who takes away alters, or attempts to destroy any record, paper, or proceeding in a court of the United States, or moves any such record from its proper custodial location, could face charges under this statute. This can involve deeds, patents, case files, and other documents integral to the court's functioning.
Given the significant weight courts place on their records, tampering with these documents is considered an offense of high severity.
Comparing Arizona Revised Statutes and Federal Laws on Evidence Tampering
When discussing evidence tampering, it's essential to recognize that Arizona state and federal laws have provisions to deal with these offenses. However, the specifics and scope can vary, creating a complex web of regulations for anyone caught in these crosshairs.
Under the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS), ARS 13-2809 outlines the crime of tampering with physical evidence. This state law mirrors many aspects of its federal counterparts, criminalizing the knowing destruction, alteration, or concealment of any record, document, or thing with the intent to obstruct a criminal investigation or court proceeding.
The federal laws, including 18 U.S.C. 1510 and 18 U.S.C. § 1506, cover similar ground but in a broader context. While ARS 13-2809 applies within Arizona, these federal statutes have a nationwide reach. Therefore, offenses that cross state lines or impact federal investigations can be subject to these laws.
The interplay between state and federal laws is often complex, and it's common for someone to face charges at both levels. The nuances of these laws make it essential for those charged with such crimes to seek counsel with expertise in federal and Arizona state law.
Penalties for Tampering with Physical Evidence: Federal and Arizona Laws
Tampering with physical evidence isn't taken lightly in Arizona or federal law, and the penalties reflect the gravity of these offenses.
Convictions can lead to severe consequences, including imprisonment and hefty fines, which can be life-altering.
Penalties in Arizona
Under Arizona law, tampering with physical evidence is considered a class 6 felony, the least severe category of felonies in the state. Nonetheless, it carries significant potential penalties.
If convicted, one could face up to 1.5 years in prison for a first-time offense and up to 4.5 years for repeat offenders, along with possible fines.
Federal laws are often more severe. For instance, violations of 18 U.S.C. 1510 can lead to imprisonment for up to 5 years.
Similarly, theft or alteration of records under 18 U.S.C. § 1506 could also result in imprisonment of up to 5 years.
Defending Against Charges of Evidence Tampering and Obstructing Investigations
Facing charges related to tampering with physical evidence or obstructing an investigation can be daunting. But remember, an accusation is not a conviction, and every person has the right to a defense.
We have years of experience providing vigorous defense in these complex cases at the Kolsrud Law Office. Defense strategies can vary depending on each case's specifics, but common strategies are used. These include challenging the prosecution's evidence, questioning the intent to obstruct, and probing for procedural missteps during the investigation.
In some cases, it might be possible to argue that the evidence in question was irrelevant to the investigation or that the accused person did not know it was relevant. Similarly, showing that the accused did not intend to obstruct justice could also form a viable defense strategy.
Remember, no matter the situation. It's critical to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced federal criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the complexities of these laws, protect your rights, and work diligently to present the best possible defense.
The Kolsurd Law Office Is Here to To Defend You
Navigating charges of tampering with evidence or obstructing justice isn't just about knowing the law; it's about understanding how it applies to the unique facts of your case. Here, having an attorney skilled in handling these complex legal issues becomes invaluable. It's about more than just the law. It's about crafting a tailored strategy to fight the charges and protect your reputation and future.
We are committed to providing our clients with the best possible representation at Kolsrud Law Office. Our dedication remains consistent whether you are facing a minor charge or a major indictment. We are here to safeguard your rights, ensure fair treatment, and guide you through the intricacies of the criminal justice system.
We understand that the experience of being charged with a crime can be overwhelming and stressful. Our commitment is to stand by your side, providing clear guidance and delivering a defense strategy that best fits your situation. Our extensive experience and knowledge of federal and Arizona state laws are the backbone of our client commitment.
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An award-winning criminal defense attorney Since 2006
Why Choose Josh Kolsrud
With over 100 trials to his name, and years of experience as a state and federal prosecutor, Josh understands the law, the legal process, and your rights. Josh is also committed to representing every client with utmost integrity and dedication
Josh has prosecuted major crimes on the state and federal level, led a successful anti-human sex trafficking operation that saved lives, and argued before countless juries and justices for his clients
Josh is an expert in both Arizona and federal criminal law, and is ready to put that expertise to work for you.
As a prosecutor, Josh saw far too many defendants lose their livelihood due to poor representation. Josh will always give every client his complete attention and effort