From Bad to Worse: Tampering Charges
Don’t Eat it. Don’t toss it. Don’t consent to a search.
You see the red and blue lights reflecting inside of your car. You look into your rearview mirror to see the police car almost touching your bumper. Your heart jumps into your throat and you shout an expletive. You have drugs in the car.
This is how most tampering with evidence cases start. Someone is panicked, afraid of going to jail, and they make a possible bad situation much worse. Often, a misdemeanor marijuana charge or State Jail drug possession charge turns into a Third-Degree Felony.
When someone eats or throws out marijuana or drugs to avoid police detection, then the offense of Tampering has been committed. Because you see police attempting to detain you, you know “an investigation…is pending or in progress.” Eating or tossing out “evidence” is destroying or conceals a “thing with intent to impair its verity, legibility, or availability as evidence in the investigation.” This is a felony of the third degree. See Texas Penal Code Section 37.09. Even if you have no criminal history, you could be facing 2 years to 10 years in prison.
If you are already charged, then you need to contact a criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible. There may be important legal issues that an attorney needs to research and investigate.
What to Do When You Get Pulled Over by the Police
Going forward, this is how you should handle a traffic stop:
- Let the cop know you plan to stop by turning on your emergency flashers. In a safe manner and place, pull over as soon as you can.
- Remain in the car. The police will be immediately on high alert and prone to take aggressive action if get out of the car without being ordered or asked to do so.
- Turn off the engine of your car, roll your window down, and turn on your inside dome lights.
- If you are afraid there is contraband in your car, do not throw it out, do not eat it, do not put it into a drink container.
- Stay calm. Take deep breaths before the cop walks up.
- Stay still and place your hands at 10-and-2 on the steering wheel. Keep your hands there on the wheel and remain still as the officer approaches your vehicle. You do not want to give him or her any reason to believe you’re a threat.
- Wait for the cop to ask for your license and insurance. Do not try to speed things along by getting reaching for your wallet or fumbling around in your car as the police approach.
- Do not make any furtive movements (attempting to avoid notice or attention). Move deliberately and slowly. Your mind is racing, so are likely to move more quickly than normal. Try to slow yourself down.
- If you have a License to Cary a Handgun, then you should have received training on how to communicate with the police about the gun. Follow that training. In Texas, in most circumstances it is legal to have a gun in your car.
- Once you have provided your license and insurance documents, return your hands to the steering wheel.
- Be polite and respectful in your communications with the officer.
- Do not consent to a search. If the officer asks to search your car, they already think something is up. Politely refuse a search. Politely decline to answer any further questions.
- Do not argue. We want the body-cam or dashcam video to show you being polite and respectful.
- If the officer issues a citation, then sign it as directed.
- Once the traffic stop is over, take a minute to put everything back. Take extra care to safely merge back into traffic. USE YOUR SIGNAL.