Man uses arson to try to cover up murder: What are some of the ways people try to interfere with a criminal investigation?

Recently in Murrieta, a man allegedly shot and killed his wife in their home. According to local news reports, he then transported her body to an off-site storage locker, returned to the home and set it on fire. Once the house was on fire, he called 911 and said his wife was trapped inside.

When police responded to the call, they soon suspected that arson was at play. The fact that the wife wasn't on the premises caused them to also treat the situation as a missing persons case. According to reports, the man eventually confessed under questioning to murdering his wife and showed police where he had stored her body.

Getting in the way of justice.

Although the primary charges in that case are murder and arson, it also illustrates another fairly common scenario where someone tries to destroy evidence or obstruct justice in other ways. In that situation, the man probably set his home on fire to get rid of evidence such as blood stains from the gunshot wounds. He also attempted to lie to police about his wife's fate.

What happened in that situation is a fairly extreme example. Not everyone who destroys evidence sets a house on fire or attempts to cover up for murder.

Destroying evidence can be something as simple as shredding a document or attempting to get rid of files stored on a computer; there may also be attempts to conceal evidence, including burying it or trying to dump it miles away from the crime.

People may do this not only to cover up for crimes but also to weaken another person's case in a matter of civil litigation (keep in mind that destroying evidence needed for civil litigation is a crime). There are other ways to interfere with an investigation as well, including bribing witnesses, preparing and using false evidence, withholding key information, deleting computer files or lying to law enforcement. All of these can bring serious criminal charges and penalties against you.

What if you're accused of destroying evidence or other obstructive practices?

You may be accused of these crimes not only if you're the perpetrator or an immediate accomplice to the original criminal act, but also if you're a family member or friend suspected of trying to keep a loved one out of hot water. And the fact is, the charges against you may be unwarranted.

For example, when it comes to destroying evidence, prosecutors need to show that you did so willfully - that you knew what you were doing and intended to do it. If you threw something out that you didn't realize was potential evidence, you really shouldn't be found guilty.

If you live in the Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore, Hemet, Corona and Riverside areas, don't hesitate to contact us for legal advice and assistance. When you're facing charges of interfering or falsifying evidence or obstructing justice in other ways, you need strong legal representation to help you obtain fair treatment from the legal system and the best possible outcome for your case. We can help!

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