Have you been arrested for intimidating a witness? A criminal conviction for witness intimidation can have devastating consequences. You can increase your chances of getting the best possible result in your criminal case by hiring a lawyer to defend you. Our team of skilled San Diego witness intimidation lawyers know that your future is on the line and will fight to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed. We will aggressively pursue any line of defense that may be beneficial to you. Contact our San Diego office today to set up a free consultation. We will review your alleged crime, explain the potential consequences of a conviction, and answer the questions you have.
Witness Intimidation in San Diego
It is a crime under California Penal Code Section 136.1 PC to try to prevent another person from reporting a crime or testifying about a crime in court. In fact, it is crime to attempt to prevent someone from reporting a crime or testifying about a crime. The fact that your attempts to dissuade someone from testifying is irrelevant.
The prosecutor handling your case will have to establish each of the essential elements of the crime in order to convict you. You can be convicted of witness intimidation if:
- You knowingly and maliciously tried to discourage another person from reporting a crime or testifying; and
- That person was the victim of a crime or a witness to a crime.
The specific type of witness intimidation you will be charged with will depend on what you were attempting to stop a victim or witness from doing. You can be charged with witness intimidation if you attempt to dissuade a victim or witness from:
- Giving testimony at a judicial proceeding or inquiry authorized by law;
- Making a report that they were or someone else was a victim of a crime;
- Cooperating or providing information so that a complaint, indictment, information, probation violation, or parole violation could be sought and prosecuted; or
- Arresting or causing the arrest of someone in connection with a crime.
Witness intimidation does not have to be physical or cause bodily harm. The fact that you attempt to dissuade or prevent someone from aiding in the prosecution of a crime is enough to warrant criminal charges. The severity of the punishment for witness intimidation will, however, be tied to how you tried to prevent someone from reporting a crime or testifying. Using physical force or causing harm will result in more serious consequences.
Who Is Considered a Witness?
Witness is a broad term that actually covers a wide range of people. It is a crime to prevent or dissuade (or to attempt to prevent or dissuade) any of the following people from reporting a crime or aiding in the prosecution of a crime.
- Someone who knows about the existence or nonexistence of facts of a crime.
- Someone who would testify under oath;
- Someone who has reported a crime to a police, parole, probation, correctional, or judicial officer.
- Someone who has been served with a subpoena.
- Someone who has been a victim of a crime.
Penalties for Intimidating a Witness in San Diego
Intimidating a witness is a crime that can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The charge will depend on your prior criminal record and how you actually intimidated or attempted to intimidate the victim or witness.
Misdemeanor Witness Intimidation
Minor acts of witness intimidation will generally be charged as a misdemeanor. If you are charged with misdemeanor witness intimidation you could be sentenced to:
- Up to 12 months in San Diego County jail;
- Summary probation; and/or
- $1,000 in fines.
Felony Witness Intimidation
Witness intimidation will automatically be charged as a felony if:
- Your conduct was part of a conspiracy;
- You use force or threatened to use force against that person, property, or a third party;
- You have a previous conviction for intimidating a witness; or
- You were hired by another person for the specific job of intimidating a witness.
If you are charged with felony witness intimidation you could be sentenced to as many as four years in a California State prison and be required to pay up to $10,000 in fines. If you used a firearm to intimidate a witness you can be sentenced to an additional 1-10 years in prison and will lose your right to own or possess a gun. If the prosecution can prove that your witness intimidation was linked to gang activity you could be sentenced to 7 years to life in prison under the California criminal street gang enhancement.
Defenses to Witness Intimidation
You can limit the consequences of your arrest by arguing legitimate legal defenses. Your attorney will investigate your alleged crime and determine which defenses will be best in your case. Defenses to the crime of intimidating a witness in San Diego include:
- Lack of required intent;
- Lack of required knowledge;
- Lack of malice;
- False accusation;
- Mistaken identity; and
- Infringement of your Constitutional rights.
Experienced San Diego Witness Intimidation Attorney
If you have been arrested for witness intimidation in San Diego it is important to speak with a lawyer as soon as you can. Do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Vikas Bajaj, APC today to schedule a free consultation. We have nearly two decades of legal experience and understand the best way to approach a complex legal case.
We will conduct a thorough and in-depth investigation to uncover any information and evidence that may be helpful to you. Using this information, we will determine where the prosecution’s case is weak and use those points to leverage a deal. This process often results in getting the charges against our clients reduced or dropped. The prosecution will begin to build a case against you for witness intimidation as soon as you are arrested. Call us today to get started on your defense.