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Tampering with Governmental Record

The statute for the crime of tampering with a government record was broadly written such that it could allow prosecutors to file criminal charges relating to the illegal use of any kind of governmental record. Texas Penal Code § 37.01 defines a governmental record as:

  • anything belonging to, received by, or kept by 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 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, an electronic submission in a form described by Texas Transportation Code § 502.046(i), or an evidence of financial responsibility described by Texas Transportation Code § 601.053;
  • an official ballot or other election record; or
  • the written documentation a mobile food unit is required to obtain under Texas Health and Safety Code § 437.0074.

While tampering with a government record is normally a misdemeanor offense, certain aggravating factors can result in felony charges. Anybody who is accused of this crime will want to make sure that he or she has highly experienced legal counsel familiar with these types of cases.

Attorney for Tampering with Governmental Record Arrests in Houston, TX

Were you arrested or do you think that you could be under investigation for allegedly tampering with a government record in southeast Texas? Even if you know that you are completely innocent, you should still avoid saying anything to authorities until you have first contacted Horak Law.

Houston criminal defense lawyer Matt Horak aggressively defends clients accused of white collar crimes in Galveston, Sugar Land, Pasadena, The Woodlands, Conroe, Richmond-Rosenberg, Pearland, Houston, Missouri City, Spring, League City, and many surrounding areas of Harris County. Call our firm at (713) 225-8000 or toll-free at (800) 225-8009 to have our attorney review oyur case and discuss all of your legal options during a confidential consultation.


Overview of Tampering with Governmental Record in Harris County


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Texas Tampering with Governmental Record Charges

Under Texas Penal Code § 37.10, a person commits the crime 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 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 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 knowledge that it was obtained unlawfully.

If the governmental record was a governmental record that is required for enrollment of a student in a school district and was used by the alleged offender to establish the residency of the student, tampering with a government record is a Class C misdemeanor. If the governmental record was a written appraisal filed with an appraisal review board under Texas Tax Code § 41.43(a-1) that was performed by a person who had a contingency interest in the outcome of the appraisal review board hearing, tampering with a government record is a Class B misdemeanor.

Tampering with a government record is a third-degree felony if the governmental record was:

  • a public school record, report, or assessment instrument required under Chapter 39 of the Texas Education Code, data reported for a school district or open-enrollment charter school to the Texas Education Agency through the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) described by Texas Education Code § 42.006, under a law or rule requiring that reporting, or a license, certificate, permit, seal, title, letter of patent, or similar document issued by government, by another state, or by the United States, unless the actor's intent is to defraud or harm another, in which event the offense is a felony of the second degree;
  • a written report of a medical, chemical, toxicological, ballistic, or other expert examination or test performed on physical evidence for the purpose of determining the connection or relevance of the evidence to a criminal action;
  • a written report of the certification, inspection, or maintenance record of an instrument, apparatus, implement, machine, or other similar device used in the course of an examination or test performed on physical evidence for the purpose of determining the connection or relevance of the evidence to a criminal action; or

If the governmental record was one described by Texas Penal Code § 37.01(2)(D) (relating to motor vehicle liability insurance), the alleged offense is a:

  • Class B misdemeanor if the alleged offender makes, presents, or uses any record, document, or thing with knowledge of its falsity and with intent that it be taken as a genuine governmental record or makes, presents, or uses a governmental record with knowledge of its falsity and the alleged offender is convicted of presenting or using the record;
  • Third-degree felony if the alleged offender knowingly makes a false entry in, or false alteration of, a 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 intent that it be used unlawfully; or possesses, sells, or offers to sell a governmental record or a blank governmental record form with knowledge that it was obtained unlawfully; or makes, presents, or uses any record, document, or thing with knowledge of its falsity and with intent that it be taken as a genuine governmental record or makes, presents, or uses a governmental record with knowledge of its falsity and the alleged offender is convicted of making the record.
  • Second-degree felony if the alleged offender's intent in committing the alleged offense was to defraud or harm another.

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Tampering with Governmental Record Penalties in Harris County

The possible consequences of convictions for tampering with a government record depend on how the crimes are classified. Generally, convictions are punishable as follows:

  • Class C misdemeanor — Fine of up to $500;
  • Class B misdemeanor — Up to 180 days in jail and/or fine of up to $2,000;
  • Class A misdemeanor — Up to one year in jail and/or fine of up to $4,000;
  • State Jail Felony — Up to two years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000;
  • Third-Degree Felony — Up to 10 years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000; and
  • Second -Degree Felony — Up to 20 years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000.

Texas Penal Code § 37.10(f) states that it is a defense to prosecution under Texas Penal Code § 37.10(a)(1), (a)(2), or (a)(5) that the false entry or false information could have no effect on the government's purpose for requiring the governmental record. Additionally, Texas Penal Code § 37.10(e) establishes that it is an affirmative defense to prosecution for possession under Texas Penal Code § 37.10(a)(6) that the possession occurred in the actual discharge of official duties as a public servant.

Texas Penal Code § 37.10(j), however, states that it is not a defense to prosecution under Texas Penal Code § 37.10(a)(2) that the record, document, or thing made, presented, or used displays or contains the statement "NOT A GOVERNMENT DOCUMENT" or another substantially similar statement intended to alert a person to the falsity of the record, document, or thing, unless the record, document, or thing displays the statement diagonally printed clearly and indelibly on both the front and back of the record, document, or thing in solid red capital letters at least one-fourth inch in height.


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Texas Tampering with Governmental Record Resources

Chapter 39 | Texas Education Code — View the full text of this chapter of the Texas Education Code that establishes the required assessment instruments that can result in third-degree felony tampering with a government record charges. The adoption and administration of assessment instruments is discussed in detail in Texas Education Code § 39.023. Additional subsections cover administration of assessment instruments by computer, college preparation assessments, and auditing and monitoring performance under contracts for assessment instruments.

Texas Tax Code § 41.43 | Protest of Determination of Value or Inequality of Appraisal — View the full text of this statute that establishes the Texas Tax Code violations that can result in Class B misdemeanor tampering with a government record charges. The relevant section states:

If in the protest relating to a property with a market or appraised value of $1 million or less as determined by the appraisal district the property owner files with the appraisal review board and, not later than the 14th day before the date of the first day of the hearing, delivers to the chief appraiser a copy of an appraisal of the property performed not later than the 180th day before the date of the first day of the hearing by an appraiser certified under Chapter 1103, Occupations Code, that supports the appraised or market value of the property asserted by the property owner, the appraisal district has the burden of establishing the value of the property by clear and convincing evidence presented at the hearing. If the appraisal district fails to meet that standard, the protest shall be determined in favor of the property owner.


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Horak Law | Houston Tampering with Governmental Record Defense Lawyer

If you were arrested for allegedly tampering with a government record, it is in your best interest to quickly seek legal representation. Horak Law represents individuals in Liberty County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, Montgomery County, Waller County, Fort Bend County, and Harris County.

Matt Horak is a skilled criminal defense attorney in Houston who will fight to help you achieve the most favorable resolution to your case that results in the fewest possible penalties. He can provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call our firm at (713) 225-8000 or toll-free at (800) 225-8009 or fill out an online contact form today to receive a initial consultation.


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Our Office in The Woodlands
1790 Hughes Landing Blvd #400 The Woodlands, TX 77380 (281) 907-4990
Our Office in Houston
5300 Memorial Dr #750 A Houston, TX 77007 (713) 225-8000
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Matt Horak Matt Horak is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 2014

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