Tampering with Physical Evidence
The defendant was charged with one count of tampering with physical evidence. The charge arose out of an incident wherein the defendant was alleged to have picked up ammunition shells and discarded them after a friend of his discharged a firearm within city limits. Ultimately the case was resolved by a plea to a violation and payment of a fine.
"This is one of those cases where it just didn't make sense to go to trial. When the State offers to reduce a criminal offense to a civil offense (where only a fine is due) it is difficult to pass up. I contend my client did nothing wrong. My client's friend had discharged a gun in a downtown area. This friend had absolutely violated the law. After the friend fired the gun my client picked up the shell casings and disposed of them. A required element that State must prove for a tampering with physical evidence charge is that my client, at the time he disposed of the shells, knew an official proceeding was going to take place. This element was not likely going to be proved. At the time my client picked up the shell casings he had no knowledge the police had been called. Unless he knew the police had been called and they were responding he could not have known an official proceeding had begun. Without that knowledge the shell casings were just "litter." A good analogy is that if you were walking down the street and picked up trash to throw it away are you tampering with physical evidence if an officer happens to be investigating a person for littering with that item of trash? Of course not - UNLESS you knew that particular piece of trash was going to be used in an official proceeding. Although my client had a perfectly defensible case the State was willing to reduce the case to a non-criminal charge and my client did not want to risk the outcome of a jury trial. Ultimately my client pleaded to a non-criminal charge and had to pay a fine."
Jackson County, Oregon
Actual Case Summaries
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