The prospect of being arrested is frightening. And so when we are looking at a possible arrest and conviction for any crime, it can be tempting to get rid of the evidence that we think will be used against us at trial. The bigger and more severe the possible penalty we face, the bigger the temptation.
However, doing so is a mistake and can make an already bad situation much worse. The destruction of evidence in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, is a crime in itself and can expose us to increased jail time and fines. So not only will you face a possible conviction for the underlying crime itself, but also a conviction for the destruction of evidence charge.
In addition, although you may be tempted to destroy evidence to protect yourself, sometimes the evidence you destroy is needed to prove your innocence.
Every jurisdiction has laws that prevent the tampering with and the destruction of evidence. Evidence is the bedrock of proof in our court system. As such, we as a society must protect its integrity in the court process.
What Is Destruction of Evidence In Tahlequah?
Knowingly destroying evidence that is to be used as part of a pending legal proceeding or investigation is a crime, and is chargeable as a misdemeanor in Tahlequah.
In order to secure a conviction, a prosecutor must prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. It is a high standard that must be met. The elements of the crime of destruction of evidence are:
- you willfully
- destroyed a writing, paper, book, record, or any matter or thing (the evidence);
- knowing that it would be used as evidence in a court case, trial, or legal proceeding or investigation; and
- with the intent to prevent the thing destroyed from being used as evidence.
Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 454
There are four elements to a destruction of evidence charge. Any facts that mitigate against any of the elements provides a defense.
If you are unaware that you destroyed the evidence, that mitigates against the first element of willfulness. This can also happen if the destruction is accidental. You were cleaning up a pile of papers and a critical piece of paper accidentally made its way into the pile and was thrown away.
Likewise, if you are unaware that the item destroyed was to be used as evidence, that mitigates against the third and fourth elements of the crime and provides a full defense.
Penalties For Destruction Of Evidence
This crime is chargeable as a misdemeanor, and is punishable by up to one year in jail. This would be in addition to any punishment for the underlying crime for which you destroyed the evidence.
Free Consultation: Tahlequah Criminal Defense Lawyer
Please contact a Tahlequah criminal defense lawyer to discuss your available legal options if you’ve been charged with destruction of evidence in Oklahoma.
For a free consultation, call Wirth Law Office – Tahlequah at 918-458-2677 or toll free at 1-888-447-7262.
Or, if you prefer e-mail, you may enter a legal question in the form at the top right of this page and we’ll contact you by e-mail as soon as possible.