In Colorado, altering or destroying physical evidence that may be used in an official proceeding is criminal tampering. Tampering with physical evidence is a class 6 felony. The penalties for tampering with physical evidence includes up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:
- 1. What is tampering with physical evidence?
- 2. What is “physical evidence”?
- 3. What are the penalties for tampering with physical evidence?
- 4. Related Offenses
Tampering with evidence involves destroying, altering, or removing evidence that may be used in an official proceeding, such as a criminal trial. When the defendant believes that an official proceeding is pending or about to be instituted, tampering includes:
- Destroying, mutilating, concealing, removing, or altering physical evidence with the intent to impair its verity or availability in an official proceeding; or
- Making, presenting, or offering any false or altered physical evidence with the intent that it be used in an official proceeding.1
An official proceeding generally refers to court proceedings, including civil or criminal trials. It may also include an arraignment, administrative hearing, grand jury proceeding, juvenile delinquency case, legislative hearing, arbitration, or other governmental agency hearing.
There may be a number of reasons why someone would want to alter evidence. A defendant facing criminal charges may want to destroy any evidence of their criminal activity. Alternatively, someone may want to implicate another for a crime they did not commit, and alter or plant false evidence to be used against him or her in court.
“Physical evidence,” is defined as any article, object, document, record, or thing of physical substance. However, physical evidence does not include parts of the human body or human remains.2
Physical evidence may include electronic records, videos, or audio recordings. This includes emails, text messages, social media messages, image files, video files, and computer files.
Tampering with evidence is a class 6 felony in Colorado.3 The penalties for tampering with physical evidence include 12 to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. In addition, there is a mandatory 1-year parole period.
Tampering with a witness involves attempts to get a witness to withhold testimony, testify falsely, or be absent from an official proceeding. Tampering with a witness is a class 4 felony, with penalties including 2 to 6 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines.
Bribing a juror involves offering or agreeing to offer money or any other benefit upon a juror to influence the juror's vote or opinion. Bribing a juror is a class 4 felony, with penalties including 2 to 6 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines.
In Colorado, offering money or other benefits to a witness or victim of a crime to influence their decisions is bribing a witness. Bribing a witness is a felony. The penalties for bribery of a witness or victim includes up to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.
Call us for help...
If you have been accused of tampering with physical evidence, please contact us at Colorado Legal Defense Group. Also see our general article on tampering laws in Colorado and government-related Colorado crimes.
In California? See our article on destroying concealing evidence (135 PC).
For similar accusations in Nevada, please see our article on “Nevada ‘Destroying Evidence' Laws (NRS 199.220).”
- C.R.S. 18-8-610
- C.R.S. 18-8-610(2)
- C.R.S. 18-8-610(3)