Menu

Merely Discarding Information Won’t Violate Florida’s Tampering Statute

White Collar Crime & Government Investigations   |   February 24, 2015
Download   
Share Page

On December 3, 2014, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal overturned a police detective’s conviction for deleting a video from his work cellular telephone. The video recorded a witness making statements about a case, but the state’s evidence did not show that the detective deleted the video from his cellular phone with the purpose of impairing its availability for the investigation. The proof that the video’s deletion was not intended to impair its availability stemmed from the facts that, before deleting the video, the detective showed it to a supervisor, texted it to another, and emailed it to an attorney. Costanzo v. State, 152 So. 3d 737 (Fla. App. 4 DCA 2014). 

In Costanzo, the Fourth District Court of Appeal reviewed Florida’s tampering statute, to reach its holding that section 918.13 requires destruction with intent to impair. “Merely discarding evidence from one’s person, without more does not amount to a violation of the statute.” Costanzo, 152 So. 3d at 738. The linchpin for the crime of tampering with evidence is “… some action designed to actually alter or destroy the evidence.” Id. at 738.

Costanzo articulates a common sense, bright light standard for tampering cases. Merely discarding information does not violate Florida’s tampering statute. There must be intent—some evidence that the information was deleted to impair its availability. That’s good news, which recognizes the reality that individuals in their daily lives routinely delete texts, videos, photos, and lots of other information from their cellular telephones. 


©2019 Carlton Fields, P.A. Carlton Fields practices law in California through Carlton Fields, LLP. Carlton Fields publications should not be construed as legal advice on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general information and educational purposes only, and should not be relied on as if it were advice about a particular fact situation. The distribution of this publication is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship with Carlton Fields. This publication may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication or proceeding without the prior written consent of the firm, to be given or withheld at our discretion. To request reprint permission for any of our publications, please use our Contact Us form via the link below. The views set forth herein are the personal views of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the firm. This site may contain hypertext links to information created and maintained by other entities. Carlton Fields does not control or guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this outside information, nor is the inclusion of a link to be intended as an endorsement of those outside sites.

Subscribe to Publications

Disclaimer

The information on this website is presented as a service for our clients and Internet users and is not intended to be legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. Although we welcome your inquiries, please keep in mind that merely contacting us will not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. Consequently, you should not convey any confidential information to us until a formal attorney-client relationship has been established. Please remember that electronic correspondence on the internet is not secure and that you should not include sensitive or confidential information in messages. With that in mind, we look forward to hearing from you.