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Falsifying Official Records

In Florida, those who fulfill certain duties and responsibilities must comply with specific rules regarding their conduct. For instance, a public officer who alters a work-related record can be charged with falsifying records, which is punishable by prison time and hefty fines, so if you are being investigated for falsifying records or another white collar crime, it is important to contact an experienced south Florida white collar crime attorney who can protect your interests.

Prohibited Acts

Certain individuals are specifically prohibited from unlawfully altering work-related records, including:

  • Judges;
  • Justices;
  • Mayors;
  • Clerks;
  • Sheriffs;
  • Coroners;
  • Other public officers; or
  • Employees or agents of a contractor working for a public agency.

These individuals are prohibited from stealing, embezzling, or falsifying any of the following:

  • Records;
  • Charters;
  • Gifts;
  • Grants;
  • Conveyances;
  • Contracts; or
  • Any papers filed in judicial proceedings.

It is also unlawful to alter or falsify documents belonging to any public office, which includes:

  • Meeting minutes;
  • Documents;
  • Proceedings; or
  • Books.

Penalties

A person suspected of falsifying records can be charged with a first degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. Furthermore, a person can be charged with this offense even if he or she only procured the services of someone else to achieve the alteration or was involved in any way. However, the charge will become a third degree felony if:

  • The falsified record related to an individual that was in the care or custody of a state agency; and
  • The falsification of the record had the potential to detrimentally affect the health, welfare, or safety of that individual.

Being in the care and custody of a state agency includes:

  • Child abuse protective investigations;
  • Protective supervision;
  • Foster care;
  • Protective investigations of a vulnerable adult; or
  • Protective supervision of a vulnerable adult.

Defendants convicted of third degree felonies face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If the person in the state’s custody suffered physical bodily harm or death as a result of the defendant’s actions, the charge will be increased to a second degree felony, which is punishable by 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Child Abuse Investigations

Any records belonging to the Florida Department of Children and Families are afforded special protections. For this reason, anyone who falsifies, alters, destroys, or removes any records from the Department can be charged with a third degree felony. However, in order to obtain a conviction, the prosecutor must demonstrate that the defendant falsified the records with the intent to conceal a fact that was material to an investigation of child abuse or abuse of a vulnerable adult.

Defenses

Defendants who are charged with this crime have a few defenses at their disposal, including that:

  • They did not knowingly falsify the records;
  • They were disposing or archiving records in accordance with the law; or
  • They were correcting or updating the records, which is not prohibited.

Contact a White Collar Crime Attorney Today

To learn more about possible defenses to allegations of falsifying official records, please contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Criminal Defense Attorneys at (305) 670-9919 to speak with an experienced Miami white collar crime attorney who can evaluate your case.

Resource:

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0800-0899/0839/Sections/0839.13.html

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