Senate ready to consider increased evidence tampering penalties
Messing with evidence could come with more consequences soon.

Crime scene of a murder case. 3D illustration
The House is also ready to vote on a version of this bill.

The Senate Rules Committee OK’d legislation Tuesday that would ramp up penalties for evidence tampering in certain felony cases.

SB 796, filed by Sen. Jennifer Bradley, would make tampering with or fabricating evidence a second-degree felony if done in a criminal trial, proceeding or investigation relating to felonies. With the Tuesday signoff from Rules, the bill is now ready for the Senate floor.

Currently, it’s a third-degree felony to tamper with evidence in all cases, and the law does not distinguish between tampering with evidence in murder cases and lesser offenses, such as possession of marijuana.

Expectations are that enhanced penalties would lead to more convictions on the charge.

A staff analysis of a similar bill filed for the 2021 Session asserted a potential “positive indeterminate impact on prison beds by increasing the felony degrees and penalties for tampering with or fabricating physical evidence in specified cases.”

The bill has also already passed all three House committee stops, so it is ready for the floor there as well. The bill (HB 287), introduced by Rep. Sam Garrison of Clay County, cleared its final committee late last month.

Evidence tampering made headlines in Northeast Florida last year after the murder of a teenage girl in St. Johns County. The suspect’s mother was charged with attempting to scrub the murder victim’s blood out of her son’s jeans, and despite the seriousness of the crime, only a third-degree felony charge is being pursued.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski



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