Have you been arrested, charged or are currently under investigation for the criminal offense of Tampering with a Government Record? If you are facing the criminal charge of Tampering with a Government Record, it is critical that you call an experienced Fort Worth criminal attorney that will thoroughly investigate your case and ensure the best possible outcome for your case is achieved.

As a former prosecutor with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office, I have the experience and expertise to aggressively defend you from criminal prosecution for the crime of Tampering with a Government Record.

What must be proven to sustain a conviction for Tampering with a Government Record?

Under Texas Penal Code, Section 37.10, the following elements of Tampering with a Government Record must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the State of Texas:

A person commits an offense if he knowingly makes a false entry in, or false alteration of, a governmental record; makes, presents, or uses any record, document, or thing with knowledge of its falsity and with intent that it be taken as a genuine governmental record; intentionally destroys, conceals, removes, or otherwise impairs the verity, legibility, or availability of a governmental record; possesses, sells, or offers to sell a governmental record or a blank governmental record form with intent that it be used unlawfully; makes, presents, or uses a governmental record with knowledge of its falsity; or possesses, sells, or offers to sell a governmental record or a blank governmental record form with knowledge that it was obtained unlawfully.

Criminal Consequences of Tampering with a Government Record

Normally, Tampering with a Government Record is classified as a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a term in the Tarrant County jail of up to 1 year and up to $4,000. However, if the Tarrant County District Attorney’s alleges that you acted with intent to defraud or harm another, you may be charged with State Jail Felony, punishable by a term in a state jail facility of not more than 2 years but not less than 180 days and up to a $10,000 fine.

Tampering with a Government Record may be punished as a third degree felony if it is proven that the government record was a public school record, report, or assessment instrument required under Chapter 39, Education Code, or was a license, certificate, permit, seal, title, letter of patent, or similar document issued by government, by another state, or by the United States, unless the actor’s intent is to defraud or harm another, in which event the offense is a felony of the second degree (punishable by a term in prison of not more than 20 years but not less than 2 years); a written report of a medical, chemical, toxicological, ballistic, or other expert examination or test performed on physical evidence for the purpose of determining the connection or relevance of the evidence to a criminal action; or a written report of the certification, inspection, or maintenance record of an instrument, apparatus, implement, machine, or other similar device used in the course of an examination or test performed on physical evidence for the purpose of determining the connection or relevance of the evidence to a criminal action.

If you present a standard proof of motor vehicle liability insurance form or proof of financial responsibility and the form is proven to have not been issued by an insurer authorized to write motor vehicle liability insurance in the State of Texas, Tampering with a Government Record may be charged as a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a term in the Tarrant County jail of not more than 180 days and up to a $2,000 fine.

Tampering with a Government Record is a serious charge that poses serious criminal consequences if the prosecution leads to a conviction. If your tampering with a government record case is a felony, facing a felony conviction would seriously limit your future employment options and permanently limit your right to possess and purchase firearms.

Understanding the seriousness of being charged with Tampering with a Government Record in Texas, it is critical for you to find the best criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, Texas to assist you by gaining access to the police reports and digital media evidence and sitting down with you to examine the options available to you. After thoroughly examining your evidence, your criminal attorney can begin to formulate a customized criminal defense strategy to prepare you for the best opportunity to get your tampering with a government record case dismissed. Let us examine a few common defense strategies that may assist you in get your criminal case reduced to a lesser charge or dismissed.

Defenses To Tampering With A Government Record

Lack of Criminal Intent

Analyzing the Tampering With A Government Record statute under the Texas Penal Code reveals that the government is required to prove intent under every variation of the crime. Let us look at it again:

A person commits an offense if he knowingly makes a false entry in, or false alteration of, a governmental record; makes, presents, or uses any record, document, or thing with knowledge of its falsity and with intent that it be taken as a genuine governmental record; intentionally destroys, conceals, removes, or otherwise impairs the verity, legibility, or availability of a governmental record; possesses, sells, or offers to sell a governmental record or a blank governmental record form with intent that it be used unlawfully; makes, presents, or uses a governmental record with knowledge of its falsity; or possesses, sells, or offers to sell a governmental record or a blank governmental record form with knowledge that it was obtained unlawfully.

As you can see by the bolded and italicized section above, the tampering of the government record must be done with “knowledge” or with “intent” that it be used unlawfully. You must either know of its falsity or you must have knowledge that it was obtained unlawfully.

For example: we had a client that had a friend tell him he needed assistance in cashing a government check. The client had no knowledge that it had been falsified and tampered with but agreed to help him because the client desperately needed money and trusted his friend. This was obviously very foolish of our client to do this, but did he have knowledge of its falsity? Did he present the government record with intent that it be used unlawfully? From our perspective he did not! Why would he go in and present the check to the bank if he knew it was false or tampered with? He would be an idiot not to know that he would get caught.

Remember, it is the prosecutor’s burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly made a false entry or altered the document with knowledge of its falsity and with intent that it be taken as a government record. Failure by the prosecution to prove the element of criminal intent will result in a not guilty verdict at trial and will make you immediately eligible for an expunction to clear your criminal record.

Burden of Proof Was Not Met By The State of Texas

One of the basic tenets of United States and Texas Constitutional law is that every citizen of our country has a right to a jury trial and that at all times the government has the burden to prove the alleged crime. In fact, if you have been charged with Tampering of a Government Record, the State of Texas will be required to prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Failure to prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt will result in a not guilty verdict, exonerating you from any wrongdoing.

Far too many criminal defense attorneys are quick to force a criminal case to completion, creating a disadvantage for their client. Think about it – a prosecutor normally has a large criminal case load and is trained to offer a “safe” offer to each defendant, in the event the defendant is unwise enough to accept the offer.

The best criminal defense lawyers in Texas know that a strategic move, you may be required to push your tampering with a government record case to a jury trial setting. This does not mean you will have to go to trial but in order to obtain the most leverage in negotiation, it may be a smart decision.

Because the criminal attorneys at The Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys, PLLC are former Tarrant County Prosecutors, we are aware of how the prosecutors are trained to manage cases. Most prosecutors are overwhelmed with their caseloads and do not begin seriously reviewing their cases until the case gets closer to a trial setting. Once on the trial docket, the prosecutor is required to read over the evidence, interview witnesses and determine if the charge can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. It is at this time that your criminal defense attorney can obtain the necessary leverage to get your tampering with a government record case lowered to a lesser charge or dismissed.

For example: we represented a client charged with felony tampering with a government record in Fort Worth, Texas. It took nearly two years to resolve the case because the prosecutor was unreasonable in their offers. As a result, we pushed the case onto the trial docket, while arguing the weaknesses of the case in negotiations. Once on the trial docket, the prosecutor began lowering the offer from a ten-year probation down to a two-year probation. We continued to push. Ultimately, the prosecutor was willing to lower the charge to a lesser misdemeanor offense that allowed our client to escape an onerous felony probation, while providing the opportunity to get the arrest and case sealed from their record upon completion.

If The Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys, PLLC had not pushed the case as far as necessary, the client would have been required to take a probation offer that would have set him up for failure. It is imperative you work with a criminal law firm willing to push the case and force the prosecution to meet their burden of proof!

If you have been arrested and charged with the crime of Tampering With A Government Record in Tarrant County, Fort Worth or Dallas, you need an aggressive and experienced criminal lawyer on your side that has a proven track record of obtaining favorable results for their clients.

At The Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys, PLLC, our team of criminal defense attorneys make it a top priority to work tirelessly to ensure that you are not convicted of this crime. In addition to working to ensure that you spend no time in prison or the Tarrant County jail, we also work to negotiate your case so that you can have the arrest for Tampering with a Government Record expunged or cleared from your criminal record.

At The Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys, PLLC, we have a team of former Tarrant County prosecutors with over 85 years of criminal law experience and more than 550 criminal jury trials in the courts of Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas. You deserve to partner with a team of attorneys that can protect your freedom, protect your future, and help you protect your good name by ensuring your arrest and charges are able to be cleared from your criminal record.

Call The Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys, PLLC now for a free consultation and an opportunity to speak to me about the facts of your case and the options you have under Texas law. Call Jeff Hampton at The Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys, PLLC at 817-826-9905.