Tampering with Evidence - Charges, Penalties and Sentencing

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This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (State and Federal Industrial Tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

Tampering with Evidence (NSW)


In New South Wales, tampering with evidence is an office that carries a maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment.

The legislation

The offence of tampering with evidence is contained in section 317 of the Crimes Act 1900, which states that a person who, with intent to mislead any judicial tribunal in any judicial proceeding: (a) suppresses, conceals, destroys, alters or falsifies anything knowing that it is or may be required as evidence in any judicial proceeding, or fabricates false evidence (other than by perjury or suborning perjury), or (c) knowingly makes use of fabricated false evidence is liable to imprisonment for 10 years.

What Actions Might Constitute Tampering with Evidence?

  • Parties to proceedings altering or concealing evidence, such as, but not limited to:- statements by victims or witnesses; business records; medical reports/results; CCTV footage, or; drug testing results, knowing that it is or might be evidence.
  • Parties to proceedings finding out that certain evidence is altered or fabricated and still relying on it in proceedings in a court or tribunal.
  • There is also case law that states that “false evidence” for the purpose of an offence under is section is not limited to a physical item, and could include false statements, for example, those made by Police officers, even if a typed copy of that statement was not tendered to court, included in evidence or served on the defendant.

What the Police Must Prove

In order to convict you of an offence under this section, the Prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt:

  • That you, with intent to mislead any judicial tribunal in a judicial proceeding;
  • Either:
    • Suppressed, concealed, destroyed, altered or falsified anything, knowing that it was or might have been required as evidence in any judicial proceeding; or
    • Fabricated false evidence: or
    • Knowingly made use of fabricated false evidence.

Jurisdiction

This is a Table 1 offence and will be dealt with in the Local Court unless you or the Prosecution elect to have the matter heard in the District Court. If the matter is dealt with in the District Court, it will give rise to harsher penalties.

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