Destruction of Evidence
Destruction of evidence carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment for individuals or a fine of approximately 3000 penalty units in the case of a corporation.
The Offence of Destruction of Evidence
The offence of Destruction of Evidence is contained in section 254(1) of the Crimes Act which states:
A person who—
- knows that a document or other thing of any kind is, or is reasonably likely to be, required in evidence in a legal proceeding; and
- destroys or conceals it or renders it illegible, undecipherable or incapable of identification; or
- expressly, tacitly or impliedly authorises or permits another person to destroy or conceal it or render it illegible, undecipherable or incapable of identification and that other person does so; and
- acts as described in paragraph (b) with the intention of preventing it from being used in evidence in a legal proceeding—
is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to level 6 imprisonment (5 years maximum) or a level 6 fine or both.
What Actions Might Constitute Destruction of Evidence?
The following actions could form the basis for a charge:
- Shredding documents
- Removing documents from a file
- Altering or amending documents
- Rearranging items at a crime scene.
What the Police Must Prove
To find you guilty of Destruction of Evidence, the Police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- You destroyed, concealed or rendered illegible, undecipherable or incapable of identification a document or thing;
- You knew the document or thing is or is reasonably likely to be required in evidence in a legal proceeding;
- You intended to prevent the document or thing from being used in evidence in a legal proceeding.
Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?
The matter is an indictable offence, meaning it is usually heard in the County Court. In some circumstances, it can be dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.