Broward County Toxicologist Accused Of Tampering With Evidence
Broward County toxicologist Gary Kunsman is accused of tampering with evidence and alleged theft of a controlled substance. While an investigation is ongoing, defense attorneys throughout Broward County are on notice for cases Kunsman previously lent his expertise to or testified on, because of potential bias. If an investigation confirms Kunsman’s actions, all previous cases he contributed to are under scrutiny.
What is Considered Criminal Tampering?
In Florida, criminal tampering with evidence is a third degree felony. It is defined as altering, destroying or concealing a record, document or item known to be a part of a criminal or civil investigation, hearing or proceeding. A defendant can also be charged with tampering if they purposely create a false record, document or item for introduction into a hearing for the purposes of deception. Fla. Stat. § 918.13 (2020). Because criminal tampering is a third degree felony, if convicted a defendant can serve up to 5 years in prison, 5 years of probation and $5,000 in fines.
Situations in Which Defendants are Charged
A criminal defendant can be charged with criminal tampering in addition to another crime. For example, if a police officer is following a vehicle that is speeding or driving erratically, then notices a passenger throwing something out the window, he may make a traffic stop. If during the traffic stop he sees powder residue, possibly from illegal drugs, he would have probable cause to search the vehicle and call a K9 unit for what he believes were drugs tossed from the vehicle. If drugs are located, the defendants could be charged for possession, however it does not constitute the crime of criminal tampering. To be charged, the defendant would have to destroy evidence beyond recognition, not just remove it from their vehicle or person.
A defendant might also be charged for destroying or throwing away an item they did not know was evidence in a pending criminal investigation. If evidence is not removed from the scene of a crime until days later, it was not preserved in its original state and the chain of custody can be called into question. It is also difficult if not impossible to charge someone for destroying or throwing away something they had no knowledge of.
Because in the instant investigation the person accused of tampering is a witness for the State of Florida, it calls into question all previous cases the toxicologist has testified on or investigated himself. If it affirmed that the toxicologist destroyed or altered evidence that prosecutors relied upon to make a conviction, it could affect all previous criminal cases that the toxicologist contributed to.
Contact Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney William Wallshein
If you have questions about how this current investigation could affect a pending criminal action against you, or if you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact West Palm Beach criminal attorney William Wallshein. With more than thirty-four years of experience litigating criminal defense cases in Broward and Palm Beach Counties, Mr. Wallshein is the experienced attorney you need on your side. Call today to schedule a free consultation.