Tampering with Governmental Records

Like many other states, Texas imposes severe penalties against anyone convicted of tampering with government records. Although this crime may result from a misunderstanding of paperwork or official documents, the majority of the time, this crime is committed for financial gain and personal benefit.

Texas has implemented criminal sanctions to prevent the wrongful tampering of government documents and to disgorge fraudulent practices. If you have been arrested for this offense, it is important you seek the help of a skilled defense lawyer.

Houston Tampering with Governmental Records Attorney

If you have been arrested for tampering with governmental records, do not take these charges lightly. With such high stakes, it’s important you acquire secured legal representation. Criminal defense attorney Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm has over 30 years of experience representing clients arrested for white collar crimes.

The Benken Law Firm accepts clients in Brian Benken represents clients in Harris County such as Downtown Houston, Sunnyside, Braeswood Place, West University Place and many others in the surrounding area. Call (713) 223 - 4051 to arrange a free consultation with Mr. Benken as soon as possible.

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Information Center

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What Constitutes Tampering with Governmental Records?

Under Texas law, specifically Texas Penal Code § 37.10, a person commits the crime of tampering with a governmental record when:

[H]e 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 the 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.

Despite common misconceptions, criminal tampering is a prevalent crime and is often associated with school records, insurance documents, governmental permits, and other licensing documents. With the increasing amount of terrorist activity, the crime of tampering with government records continues to increase in severity and breadth.

Specifically, someone can be charged with tampering with government records if any of the following take place:

  1. The making, possessing, selling, buying, or exchanging of falsified identification documents or cards;
  2. Alerting, modifying, editing, or creating a jury form; and
  3. The making, possessing, selling, buying, or exchanging of falsified social security cards, driver’s licenses, and/or auto insurance documents.

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Penalties Associated With Criminal Tampering Of Government Records

Tampering with governmental records is a serious crime, as charges can range from a Class B misdemeanor up to a second-degree felony. The type of classification is dependent on several factors, including:

  1. The type of document that was tampered with;
  2. If the tampering was done with intent to cause harm or defraud; and
  3. If the record in question is being sold, used, or presented.

If an individual is charged with a Class A misdemeanor, they can face up to one (1) year in jail; and/or (2) a fine up to $4,000.00. The maximum penalties associated with a class B misdemeanor include up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.00.

On the other hand, if the charge is punishable by a third-degree felony, the individual will be facing imprisonment of up to ten (10) years and/or a fine of up to $10,000.00. If intent to defraud or harm another person is found, then the defendant will likely be charged with a second-degree felony which is punishable by up to twenty (20) years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.00.

Needless to say, for anyone facing charges involving the criminal tampering of government records, it is of utmost importance that they speak to a local Texas attorney specializing in criminal defense.

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Insurance Documents

In the realm of criminal tempering, insurance documents are commonly falsified and presented for financial gain, reduction of rates, and even to avoid traffic offenses. The specific offenses can be charged as follows:

  1. Making fictitious proof of insurance, a third-degree felony.
  2. Presenting false, fictitious, or fake proof of insurance, a Class B misdemeanor.

It is important to note that if any of the actions stated in (1) and (2) are found to have been committed with an intent to defraud, they will rise to a second-degree felony.

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School Records And Documents

In addition to insurance documents, criminal tampering with school records can result in severe penalties. If an individual is found to have tampered with public school documents, records, reports, or assessments, they will be charged with a third-degree felony. Tampering with documents about public school enrolment can result in a Class C misdemeanor.

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Defenses To Tampering With Government Records

To be convicted of criminal tampering with government records, the state has the burden of proving each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If the government fails to meet its burden of proof, an experienced criminal defense attorney will utilize it as a defense to receive a not guilty verdict.

Another defense to the criminal tampering of government records is lack of intent or lack of knowledge. The state must prove that the individual had knowledge that the record was falsified or intended to falsify records or modify governmental documents.

A common example where someone lacks knowledge or intent to tamper with government records is regarding receiving a fictitious check in exchange for goods or services. Many times, someone is offered a fictitious check in exchange for goods or services. When the recipient of the check tries to cash the check and it bounces, they technically presented a false check to the bank. However, because they did so without intent to defraud or knowledge of its falsity, they will likely have a valid defense.

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Additional Resources

Texas Tampering with Government Records Law: The Texas Penal Code provides detailed information about the crime and the penalties associated with the crime.

Texas Public Law: The Texas Public Law website provides excellent information about crimes against the public. Specifically, it contains all the relevant information regarding crimes involving falsification, fraud, or false statements and misrepresentations.

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Houston Tampering with Governmental Records Attorney | Harris County, TX

If you are facing charges of tampering with a government record, or have been arrested or are under investigation for this offense, it is critical to work with a skilled criminal defense lawyer. Houston white collar crime attorney Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm has over 30 years of experience in criminal law and can advocate for you aggressively.

Call (713) 223 - 4051 to schedule a free consultation today. The Benken Law Firm defend those accused of property offenses throughout all communities in Harris County and surrounding counties in Texas.

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