Tampering with Evidence


Franklin County Criminal Law Casebook

Reproduced with permission from:
Timothy E. Pierce and the Franklin County Public Defender Office

Last updated 3/1/2016
R.C. 2921.12 -- Tampering with evidence
State v. Barry, 2015-Ohio-5449
Supreme Court reverses conviction for tampering with evidence for concealing heroin in body cavity. To prove tampering, state must prove that defendant knew that an investigation by authorities was ongoing or would likely be instituted.
State v. Spears, 178 Ohio App. 3d 580, 2008-Ohio-5181, ¶24 -- The discovery of a dead body with bullet wounds, and the absence of the gun that inflicted those wounds, are insufficient evidence of tampering with evidence to permit the use of the defendant‘s statements about the disposal of the gun. There must be additional evidence that it was disposed of to impair its value or availability as evidence.
State v. Emerson, 192 Ohio App. 3d 446, 2011-Ohio-593 -- ¶37: An empty bottle of cleaning product, and evidence the body and apparent murder weapon had been cleaned, was sufficient to sustain tampering with evidence conviction.
State v. DeMastry, 193 Ohio App. 3d 495, 2011-Ohio-1320 – False statement to a 911 operator sufficient as the basis for a tampering with evidence conviction. Court rejects claim falsification and obstructing official business are more specific offense that take precedence.
State v Murray, 186 Ohio App. 3d 185, 2009-Ohio-6174, ¶19 – “Because the parties chose to stipulate the facts instead of presenting testimony, the trial court was unable to assess witness credibility and was bound by the facts contained in the stipulation. “A stipulation, once entered into, filed and accepted by the court, is binding upon the parties and is a fact deemed adjudicated for purposes of determining the remaining issues in that case. A party who has agreed to a stipulation cannot unilaterally retract or withdraw it.” State v. McCullough, Putnam App. No. 12-07-09, 2008-Ohio-3055, ¶20.” Otherwise suspicious circumstances were neutralized by the terms of the stipulation, tying the hands of the trial and appellate courts in a case where a man died after falling over an 11-foot wall. The defendant was charged with tampering with evidence because the moved the man, while still alive, back to his truck. Issue was whether the stipulation allowed a finding against the defendant on the question of his knowledge an official investigation was likely to occur.
State v. Urbin, 148 Ohio App. 3d 293, 2002-Ohio-3410 -- Mayor was convicted of having an unlawful interest in a public contract and tampering with evidence after a local firm his brother hoped to buy catered some city affairs. When the police said they were going to stop by to pick up potential evidence, he asked his secretary if there was anything they should be worried about, then put a computer disk in his pocket, which he later handed over. Affirmed. Opinion depicts an ugly exercise in going for the jugular in local politics.
State v. Barnett, Huron App. No. H-03-039, 2004-Ohio-3156 -- During an illegal search a fake sneeze disbursed some of the heroin lying on a plate. Since the sneeze incident was occasioned by the illegal search, the officer's observations forming the basis for a tampering with evidence charge is to be suppressed under the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine. State v. Ali, 154 Ohio App. 3d 493, 2003-Ohio-5150, distinguished.
State v. Delaney, Union App. No. 14-04-10, 2004-Ohio-4158 -- During the execution of a search warrant at a trailer, defendant dropped a packet of drugs while an officer was watching. Warrant did not include search of individuals present. Dropping the crack did not constitute tampering with evidence. Maximum consecutive sentence for that offense to that for the minor drug offense was also unjustified.
State v. Allen, Marion App. No. 9-04-27, 2005-Ohio-551 -- Tampering conviction affirmed where a mother manipulated her eight-year old daughter into a signed recantation of abuse charges against the mother's "half-brother and boyfriend."
State v. Gabriel, 170 Ohio App. 3d 393, 2007-Ohio-794 -- Tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse are not allied offenses of similar import.
State v. Diana (1976), 48 Ohio St. 2d 199 -- The tampering with evidence statute is not unconstitutionally vague. Any person of ordinary intelligence should know that an investigation of his criminal activity is underway when the police appear with a search warrant.
State v. Wooden (1993), 86 Ohio App. 3d 23, 27 -- Tampering with evidence conviction reversed as against the weight of the evidence where police could not find gun defendant was claimed to have fired when his car was pulled over.
State v. Haynes (1998), 130 Ohio App. 3d 31 -- Defendant charged with negligent homicide was also charged with tampering with evidence, having admitted he removed a shotgun shell from the area where a hunter had been shot after wandering onto defendant's property. Reversed as plain error since had been no proof of corpus delicti. Mention officers were looking for shell and projectile was not enough.
State v. Carroll (January 11, 2000), Franklin Co. App. No. 99AP438, unreported -- Arrestee hid crack in backseat of cruiser and crushed more into the floorboard. Tampering with evidence conviction affirmed.
State v. McNeely (1988), 48 Ohio App. 3d 73 -- Tampering with evidence and tampering with records may be allied offenses of similar import.

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Published by Timothy E. Pierce
Copyright © Franklin County Public Defender and Timothy E. Pierce, 2015
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