Court Analyzes the Elements of the Crime of Tampering with Evidence in Texas

In many criminal matters, the State’s case hinges on physical evidence. Thus, if a criminal suspect alters or attempts to alter evidence during the course of an investigation for a crime, in addition to any charges arising out of the investigation, the suspect may also be charged with tampering with evidence. The Court of Appeals of Texas, Houston, recently discussed the elements of the crime of tampering with evidence in a case in which the defendant was found not guilty, and the State appealed. If you reside in Texas and are charged with tampering with evidence or any other crime, it is advisable to meet with a knowledgeable Texas criminal defense attorney to talk about your available defenses.

Facts Regarding the Defendant’s Arrest and Trial

It is reported that the defendant was sitting in a truck on the side of the road when a police officer approached him. The officer began questioning the defendant and noticed the defendant trying to shove something under his seat. Ultimately, the officer determined that the item that the defendant was trying to place under the seat was a syringe. The officer forced the defendant from the truck and to the ground, at which point the syringe fell and broke. The officer asked the defendant if he was trying to break or hide the syringe, and the defendant responded that this was his intention.

Allegedly, the police extracted liquid from the syringe, and testing revealed the liquid was methamphetamine. The State subsequently charged the defendant with tampering with evidence and possession of a controlled substance. A jury convicted the defendant on both counts, after which he appealed. On appeal, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction for tampering with evidence. The State then filed a motion for rehearing on the tampering charge, which the court granted.

The Crime of Tampering with Evidence Under Texas Law

The issue presented to the court was whether the defendant was guilty of tampering with evidence because his actions were the “but for” cause of the destruction of the syringe, despite the fact that the officer’s actions were a concurrent cause of the destruction. Thus, to obtain a conviction on the tampering with evidence charge based on a concurrent cause, the State was required to prove either that the defendant’s actions alone may have been sufficient to cause the destruction, despite the concurrent cause, or that the defendant’s actions and the concurrent cause, jointly, may have been sufficient to cause the destruction. The court noted, however, that if the concurrent acts, alone, would have been sufficient to cause the destruction, but the defendant’s acts in and of themselves were insufficient, the defendant could not be convicted.

In the subject case, the court found that a jury could reasonably conclude that although the defendant may have had the intent to break the syringe, it was the officer’s act of pulling the defendant from the truck and throwing him on the ground that actually caused the syringe to break. Thus, the court denied the State’s request for relief.

Speak with a Trusted Criminal Defense Attorney

If you live in Texas and are charged with tampering with evidence or any other crime, it is in your best interest to speak with a trusted Texas criminal defense attorney to discuss which steps you can take to protect your rights. Rick Davis is a diligent criminal defense attorney who will zealously pursue a successful outcome on your behalf. Mr. Davis can be reached at (979) 779-4357 or via the online form to schedule a confidential and free consultation.

Contact Information