NYC Evidence Tampering Guide

NYC Evidence Tampering Guide

You probably know that evidence is used to build a criminal case and is often presented in court. But the way that evidence is collected, handled and presented creates the opportunity for tampering, which is a crime. 


Evidence tampering is any action that destroys, alters, falsifies or conceals any sort of evidence. 

Evidence is a broad category, but in this case refers to any object, document or any record that is useful to a criminal investigation and trial. 

Elements involved 

Each of the following elements must be proven by the prosecution in order to convict someone of evidence tampering: 

Intent: Prosecutors must show that the defendant willfully and purposefully interfered with evidence. Accidental destruction or simply abandoning, or throwing away, evidence is not enough to prove intent. 

Knowledge: Someone acts knowingly when they are aware their conduct may cause a certain result. Regarding tampering, the accused must believe that their actions could result in their preferred verdict in court. 

Evidence: This includes any kind of physical object that might be produced and used during the course of a criminal trial, proceeding or investigation. Digital video and images are included in this category. 

Awareness of a potential or pending investigation: Prosecutors must prove that evidence was tampered with, altered or hidden in anticipation of a future or current legal proceeding. 

The act of tampering 

Tampering is a broad concept, and there are limits to what can be charged as a crime in this regard. Simply engaging in illegal activity like selling drugs, and then destroying or throwing away drug paraphernalia does not prove that the person selling drugs knew there was an investigation underway.  

Actions that trigger an evidence tampering charge commonly include: 

-Altering, destroying, concealing or removing a thing or item with the purpose of hiding the truth or making an item unavailable for a proceeding or investigation; or 

-Making, presenting or using an item in a manner to deceive any other party who is engaged in a legal proceeding or investigation

NY statute 

In New York, evidence tampering is defined as the crime of knowingly making, devising or preparing false physical evidence, or producing or offering such evidence at a proceeding knowing it to be false, and having the intent that this false evidence be used or introduced in an official proceeding. Evidence tampering in NY State also includes suppressing evidence by concealing, altering or destructing it, due to the belief that the physical evidence in question is about to be used or produced in an official proceeding. 

Tampering with physical evidence is a class E felony in New York. 

If you have been accused of Tampering with Physical Evidence in New York, contact a criminal defense attorney. The Law Offices of Julie Rendelman, LLC, are available for a free consultation.