House Bill Proposes Five Year Minimum Sentence for Document Destruction

The Secure Access to Justice Act (H.R. 1751) was introduced by Rep. Louie Gohmert (Republican from Texas) on April 21, 2005. It was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary followed by the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security where hearings were held as recently as June 30. It proposes amending Title 18 of the United States Code to protect judges, prosecutors, witnesses, victims, and their family members, and for other purposes.

Section 6, titled “Modification of Tampering with a Witness, Victim, or an Informant Offense” proposes changes to 18 U.S.C. �� 1512 which would impact penalties connected with document destruction. Currently, 18 U.S.C. �� 1512(c) reads as follows:

Whoever corruptly–

(1) alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record, document, or other object, or attempts to do so, with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding; or

(2) otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so,

shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

Section 6(a)(3) of the bill would strike “or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both” and insert “and imprisoned not less than 5 years nor more than 20 years”

Full text of the bill can be found here.

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