Call for your free consultation (02) 9025 9888

What happens if you tamper with evidence?

The Australian Federal Police have recently launched a fresh investigation into former soldier and Victorian Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith. The investigation is a result of allegations that Mr Roberts-Smith...

Justin Wong

The Australian Federal Police have recently launched a fresh investigation into former soldier and Victorian Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith. The investigation is a result of allegations that Mr Roberts-Smith buried sensitive material, namely a USB stick, in a child’s lunchbox in his backyard. The USB is said to contain classified information including operational reports from an SAS mission in southern Afghanistan, drone footage and photos.

It is a criminal offence for any person to tamper with evidence, or to conceal or destroy evidence, that may later be required in any judicial proceeding.

Section 317 of the Crimes Act states that:

Any person who, with intent to mislead any judicial tribunal in any judicial proceeding:

  • Suppresses, conceals, destroys, alters or falsified 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
  • Knowingly makes use of fabricated false evidence,

is liable to imprisonment for 10 years.

A judicial proceeding is defined as any proceeding in or before a judicial tribunal in which evidence may be taken on oath. A judicial tribunal is defined as a person (including a coroner and an arbitrator), court or body authorised by law, or by the consent of the parties, to conduct a hearing for the purpose of the determination of any matter or thing and includes a person, court or body authorised to conduct a committal proceeding.

Tampering with evidence may also lead to further serious criminal charges, such as Perverting the Course of Justice.

Image by AlonsoAguilar