Tampering with a Government Record in Fort Worth Defense, Serving Tarrant County and Surrounding Areas
Tampering with a government record is an offense that often stems from someone forging signatures on legal documents. However, the statute is much broader than that and criminalizes a wide array of other activities, such as creating a fake ID or altering school records. Basically, Texas lawmakers wrote the statute in such a way that prosecutors can use it to file charges related to the illegal use of any kind of government record.
In this article, we are going to go over the law of tampering with a government record in Texas, as well as potential consequences and examples of this offense. If you or a loved one has been accused of tampering with a government record in Fort Worth or North Texas, it’s important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who is skilled at handling these types of cases.
What Constitutes Tampering with a Government Record in Texas?
Under Texas Penal Code 37.10, a person commits the offense of tampering with a government record if he or she:
- 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 the 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 the knowledge that it was obtained unlawfully.
What is considered a government record?
Under Texas Penal Code 37.01, a government record is defined as:
- Anything belonging to, received by, or kept by the government for information, including a court record;
- Anything required by law to be kept by others for information of government;
- A license, certificate, permit, seal, title, letter of patent, or similar document issued by the government, by another state or by the United States;
- A standard proof of motor vehicle liability insurance form described by Texas Transportation Code 601.081; a certificate of an insurance company described by Texas Transportation Code 601.083; a document purporting to be such a form or certificate that is not issued by an insurer authorized to write motor vehicle liability insurance in this state, electronic submission in a form described by Texas Transportation Code 502,0469i); or evidence of financial responsibility described by Texas Transportation Code 601.053;
- An official ballot or another election record; or
- The written documentation on a mobile food unit is required to obtain under Texas Health and Safety Code 437.0074.
What are some examples of tampering with a government record in Texas?
Under statutes in the Texas Penal Code, it is illegal to use, create, alter or destroy a wide array of government documents, including driver’s license, birth certificates and school records. Here are some scenarios that could result in charges for tampering with a government record in Fort Worth:
- Making, possessing, buying or selling fraudulent auto insurance documents
- Making, buying, selling or possessing a fake ID
- Making, buying or selling a fake social security card
- Making, presenting or using fake documents to establish residency for enrolling a student to establish residency
- Altering or making a jury form
What is the Punishment for Tampering with a Government Record in Fort Worth?
The punishment for tampering with a government record in Fort Worth depends on the type of document and if there was an intent to defraud or harm another. To find out exactly what you are facing, it’s important to contact an experienced defense attorney, as it can be confusing. Below is an overview of the way tampering with government record charges are punished in Texas:
- Tampering with a government record is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum $4000 fine.
- If prosecutors can prove that you acted with the intent to harm or defraud another, it can be elevated to a state jail felony, punishable by six months to two years in a state jail facility and a maximum $10,000 fine.
- If you tampered with any type of government record listed below, it can be punished as a third degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a maximum $10,00 fine.
- Public school record, report or assessment instrument for a school district or open-enrollment charter school;
- Public school or charter school certificate, permit, seal title, letter of patent or any similar document issued by the government or state;
- Written report of a medical, chemical, ballistic, toxicological or other expert examination for the purpose of determining the relevance of the evidence in a criminal action; or
- Written report of the inspection, maintenance record of an instrument, certification, apparatus, implement, machine or other device used during the court of an examination or test performed on physical evidence to determine the relevance of evidence to a criminal action; or
- Search warrant issued by magistrate
- If you tampered with a school record, report, assessment instrument, certificate, seal, title, letter or patent or similar document with the intent to defraud or harm another, you can be charged with a second-degree felony punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.
What are some real life examples of people who have been arrested for tampering with a government record in Texas?
- In March 2020, an attorney was accused of tampering with a government record for allegedly forging a notary on a document that was electronically filed with the court.
- A former Nueces County assistant medical examiner was arrested in March 2022 on a charge of tampering with a government record on accusations that she performed autopsies without a medical license, specifically she provided false information on her application to the Texas Medical Board.
- A San Antonio police officer was charged with tampering with a government record on accusations that he lied in an incident report regarding a crash investigation.
- In 2021, three jailers were charged with tampering with a government record on accusations that they made false time entries in a medical observation record in connection with the death of an inmate.
Facing a charge of tampering with a government record in Fort Worth? Contact Us.
If you have been charged with tampering with a government record in Fort Worth or the surrounding area, it’s important to contact an attorney who has experience handling these types of cases, which can be tedious and paper-intensive. At Varghese Summersett, we have extensive experience handling white collar cases. We will launch an investigation of our own into the prosecutor’s allegations, design a solid defense strategy, and work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Call 817-203-2220 for a free consultation with a skilled defense lawyer today.