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One common aspect of criminal proceedings is the critical role that evidence plays in establishing guilt or innocence. The tampering with evidence is a serious offence that undermines the integrity of the justice system.
Tampering with evidence, also known as evidence tampering, refers to the act of altering, hiding, destroying, or fabricating physical or digital evidence with the intent to deceive or mislead investigators, prosecutors, or the court during an investigation or trial. This act obstructs the truth-seeking process and impedes justice, potentially leading to wrongful convictions or the escape of guilty parties. One of the primary legislation is s317 which provides as follows;
CRIMES ACT 1900 – SECT 317
Tampering etc with evidence
317 Tampering etc with evidence
A person who, with intent to mislead any judicial tribunal in any judicial proceeding–
(a) suppresses, conceals, destroys, alters or falsifies anything knowing that it is or may be required as evidence in any judicial proceeding, or
(b) fabricates false evidence (other than by perjury or suborning perjury), or
(c) knowingly makes use of fabricated false evidence,
is liable to imprisonment for 10 years.
In New South Wales, tampering with evidence is considered a serious criminal offence, punishable under various sections of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and other relevant legislations. The specific sections that address evidence tampering are generally related to perverting the course of justice or hindering investigations. Some of the relevant sections are:
Section 319 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) – Perverting the Course of Justice
Under this section, it is an offence to obstruct, prevent, pervert, or defeat the course of justice. This includes acts of tampering with evidence to prevent the truth from emerging during an investigation, trial, or other legal proceedings.
Section 316 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) – Fabricating Evidence
This section deals with the act of fabricating or presenting false evidence with the intent to deceive and influence the outcome of a legal proceeding. Tampering with evidence can involve presenting altered or forged documents or physical evidence to mislead the court.
Section 317 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) – False Accusations
While not directly related to evidence tampering, this section is important as it criminalises making false accusations against another person. False accusations can contribute to the manipulation of evidence and hinder the pursuit of truth in a criminal case.
The consequences of tampering with evidence can be severe, reflecting the seriousness of the offence and its potential impact on the justice system. If found guilty of evidence tampering in NSW, an individual may face the following consequences:
Full Time Custodial Sentence
Offenders may be sentenced to a significant term of imprisonment, depending on the nature and gravity of the tampering. Prison terms can range from several months to several years. Other sentencing options can be Intensive Corrections Orders and Conditional Release Orders.
The court may impose substantial fines as a penalty for evidence tampering, in addition to or in place of imprisonment.
A conviction for tampering with evidence will result in a criminal record, which can have far-reaching consequences on a person’s personal and professional life.
Adverse Impact on Other Cases
Tampering with evidence not only affects the specific case at hand but also has broader implications. It can lead to the collapse of a trial or the wrongful conviction of an innocent person, undermining public confidence in the justice system.
For people found guilty of evidence tampering, there may be severe professional repercussions, including losing your licence or job.
Common defences against evidence tampering charges may include:
Lack of Intent
One of the key elements of evidence tampering is the presence of intent. If it can be demonstrated that the alleged tampering was accidental or unintentional, it may weaken the prosecution’s case.
Demonstrating that the prosecution’s case lacks sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that tampering occurred can lead to acquittal.
Tampering with evidence undermines the foundation of justice, and the legal system takes a firm stance against such acts.
As such, it is vital to uphold the principles of truth and fairness while zealously advocating for the rights of our clients. The pursuit of justice requires a steadfast commitment to the rule of law, ensuring that the guilty are held accountable while protecting the innocent from wrongful conviction. If you have been wrongly charged with tampering with evidence, contact one of our avo lawyers at Lyons Law Group. Our firm has free consultation lawyers to assist and provide legal advice to you.