Although not exclusive to drug and marijuana crimes, otherwise fairly simple offenses such as Seventh Degree Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, New York Penal Law 220.03, and Fifth Degree Criminal Possession of Marihuana, New York Penal Law 221.10, are often complicated when the police not only arrest a person for possessing heroin, molly, MDMA, adderall, oxy, cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana or any other drug, but also charge that person with an additional crime when he or she attempts to hide or dispose it before the police can get their respective hands on controlled substance. In these circumstances the NYPD or other local police department often charges the accused not only with the PL 220.03 or PL 221.10, for example, but also with either Tampering with Physical Evidence or Attempted Tampering with Physical Evidence, a class “E” felony and class “A” misdemeanor respectively. While the latter offense, New York Penal Law 215.40, is punishable by as much as four years in prison, an attempt to commit the same crime is “only” punishable by up to one year in jail.
Because both the police and prosecutors often charge a variation of PL 215.40 whether by Desk Appearance Ticket or Central Booking processing, a charge of Tampering with Physical Evidence is far from atypical. However, an arrest and charge does not automatically equate to proof beyond a reasonable doubt if at all. This blog entry will address the fairly common scenario where an accused merely throws to the ground, drops or discards the physical evidence in question and whether that rises to the level of either a completed or attempted Tampering with Physical Evidence crime.