Secret videographers David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt were both indicted on charges of tampering with a governmental record, a second-degree felony that carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison.
According to the Chronicle story, this charge might stem from Planned Parenthood’s allegation “that Daleiden and others used … fake government I.D.s”; the “tampering with governmental record” law makes it a crime for anyone to “make, present, or use any record, document, or thing with knowledge of its falsity and with intent that it be taken as a genuine governmental record.” The second-degree felony version also requires proof that the defendant intended “to defraud or harm another.”
Note that the 20-year sentence is just the maximum for second-degree felonies; I doubt that the typical sentence in such cases is quite that high. (See, e.g., Tottenham v. State.) In Texas and a few other states, sentences are generally set by juries.
The Chronicle story also reports that Daleiden was indicted for “offer[ing] to buy … a human organ,” which under Texas law includes “fetal tissue.”
I’m trying to get a copy of the indictment myself, but I haven’t yet seen it. I’ll post more when I learn more. Thanks to Jim Bell for the pointer.
UPDATE: Here’s the indictment for tampering with a governmental record (thanks to Prof. Josh Blackman for passing it along). The indictment charges that the defendants “ma[de], present[ed], or use[d] a governmental record” — a California driver’s license — “with knowledge of its falsity,” a quote from Texas Penal Code § 37.10(a)(5).
Note that to support that charge, the government would have to show that the defendants altered a real driver’s license, rather than forging one from scratch, see Thompson v. State (Tex. Ct. App. 2007): “For a license, certificate, or permit to be considered a governmental record, it must be issued by the government. Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 37.01(2)(C).” Where “there is no proof that any of the items found on the computer were issued by any governmental body,” but instead were “counterfeit driver’s licenses” “prepared from sample I.D. templates from various websites,” the defendant’s conduct doesn’t constitute using a governmental record with knowledge of its falsity.
But I assume that there was indeed evidence that the defendants altered or misused real driver’s licenses. If they hadn’t, presumably the jury would have indicted under Texas Penal Code § 37.10(a)(2), which makes it a crime to “make, present, or uses any record, document, or thing with knowledge of its falsity and with intent that it be taken as a genuine governmental record.”
FURTHER UPDATE: Here’s the indictment for offering to buy fetal tissue.
FURTHER UPDATE: Some readers have noted that one of the prosecutors in the Harris County D.A.’s office is on the Planned Parenthood board; but she was apparently excluded by the D.A. from the investigation (not hard, I imagine, in such a large office).