Evidence is necessary in any criminal case in order for the prosecution to secure a conviction. Facing criminal charges of any kind can be a scary proposition for the person being charged or about to be charged.
It can be tempting to try to get rid of all incriminating evidence if you know that you will be facing criminal charges. However, if you do so—whether you tamper with evidence, conceal it, or destroy it—you could suffer additional criminal penalties from a destruction of evidence charge.
Destruction of evidence is a crime in McAlester, Oklahoma. Additionally, if you panic and destroy evidence, you may be destroying a valuable part of your own defense without realizing it.
What Does Destroying Evidence Entail?
Oklahoma law states that it is a misdemeanor for any person to intentionally destroy any book, paper, record, instrument, or any other thing that a person knows will be used as evidence at a trial, investigation, or hearing. (Okla. Stat. tit.21 § 454)
Defenses to a Destruction of Evidence Charge in Oklahoma
There are defenses to a destruction of evidence charge in McAlester. The most obvious defense is that the object was not in fact evidence that would be used in a proceeding against you. So, if the underlying proceeding is an alleged drug crime and the evidence destroyed is a note that has nothing to do with the allegations, the evidence is not relevant to the allegations.
Lack of knowledge and lack of intent are also defenses to the crime. If you did not know that you were destroying something relevant to the underlying charge—or it was destroyed by accident—you thought you were throwing away a bag of sugar, instead of cocaine, that might also be a defense if your belief was reasonable.
Penalties for Destruction of Evidence in McAlester
A destruction of evidence charge can lead to a misdemeanor conviction punishable by up to one year in jail. This is in addition to the penalties that may be imposed for the conviction for the underlying crime.
So rather than flushing your illegal drugs down a toilet to avoid getting caught with the evidence, which will add time to your sentence, contact an experienced McAlester criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will be able to help you understand all the options that are open to you.