Supreme Court: Tampering Convictions Require Proof of Evidence Related to an Investigation


In order to be convicted of "tampering with evidence" in Ohio, there must be proof that the evidence is related to an ongoing or likely investigation. That's what the Ohio Supreme Court ruled yesterday when it upheld a lower court's decision to set aside a Clark County woman's conviction.

In April 2011, Amanda Straley was arrested and charged with drug trafficking, cocaine possession, and tampering with evidence. The charges were filed after Straley allegedly attempted to conceal incriminating evidence from two narcotics detectives.

Straley plead "no contest" to the trafficking and possession charges, but went to trial for the tampering charge. The jury tried her and found her guilty, sentencing her to a nine month prison sentence. The conviction was reversed on appeal, because the judge found that the tampering allegations did not meet all the necessary requirements for a conviction.

According to Revised Code § 2921.12(A)(1), three elements must be in place to constitute a conviction. Those three elements are:

  1. the knowledge of an official proceeding or investigation in progress or likely to be instituted,
  2. the alteration, destruction, concealment, or removal of the potential evidence, and
  3. the purpose of impairing the potential evidence's availability or value in such proceeding or investigation.

Justice Lanzinger, a judge from the Second District, ruled that Straley's case failed to meet the third requirement. For more on this story, visit Court News Ohio.