Intentionally destroying evidence is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada.
Deliberately destroying evidence can be a very serious crime in Nevada. The punishment includes high fines and possibly jail. But a skilled Las Vegas criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate a favorable resolution so that the charges get reduced or perhaps even dismissed altogether.
This article explains the Nevada crime of destroying evidence. Keep reading to learn about the law, defenses, and penalties in Las Vegas.
The legal definition of "destroying evidence" in Las Vegas, Nevada, centers around the defendant's state of mind at the time of the incident. Willfully destroying evidence is a crime only if the defendant did so with the intent either to:
- conceal the commission of a felony in Nevada,
- protect or conceal the identity of any person committing a felony in Nevada,
- delay or hinder the administration of the law, or
- prevent the production of the evidence at any time, in any court or before any officer, tribunal, judge or magistrate
Note that NRS 199.220 punishes not just "destroying" or obliterating evidence but also merely altering, erasing or concealing the evidence. Also note that this law covers all types of evidence including books, papers, records, writings, instruments and things.
The best strategy for fighting allegations of destroying evidence in Las Vegas depends wholly on the circumstances of the case. But some typical defenses may include the following:
- The defendant didn't act with criminal intent: Destroying items that would otherwise be evidence is not a crime if the defendant destroyed them by accident or without any knowledge that the items were related to a case. As long as the prosecution can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant meant to conceal a felony or to obstruct justice, criminal charges should not be allowed to stand.
- The evidence wasn't relevant to the case: A defendant cannot violate NRS 199.220 by destroying objects or writings that have no connection to the commission of a felony or a legal proceeding. So if the defense attorney can show that the defendant didn't trash anything with any bearing to felonious conduct or a civil or criminal case, the matter should be dismissed.
- The police performed an illegal search in the case: The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department may not receive a Nevada search warrant without probable cause to believe a crime had been committed. If the defense attorney believes the police may have acted without probable cause, they can file a Las Vegas motion to suppress asking the court to disregard any evidence uncovered as a result of the illegal search. If the court grants the motion, then the defendant's case will be significantly strengthened.
The law treats the Las Vegas offense of destroying evidence as a gross misdemeanor in Nevada. The maximum sentence is:
- 364 days in the Clark County Detention Center (or another county jail), and/or
- $2,000 in fines
Therefore it's possible for a conviction of destroying evidence to carry only fines and no jail. However, the defendant would still need to wait two (2) years before the Las Vegas Court is allowed to seal the record. But if the prosecution agrees to plea bargain the charge down to only a misdemeanor in Nevada, the waiting time is downgraded to one (1) year. Learn more about sealing Nevada criminal records.
Charged? Call us . . . .
If you've been arrested for destroying evidence under NRS 199.220, call Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) to speak for free. They will investigate, negotiate and litigate to the full extent of the law to try to achieve the best end result possible in your case.