Los Angeles Witness Tampering Defense Attorneys
Under California Penal Code Section 136.1, witness tampering is known as dissuading a witness. Witness tampering is a “wobbler” crime that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances under which it occurred. Being convicted of felony dissuading a witness carries penalties of up to two, three, or four years in state prison.
In California, it is a crime to knowingly and maliciously prevent, or to attempt to prevent, another person from:
- Attending or giving testimony at any trial, proceeding, or legally authorized inquiry
- Reporting a crime to law enforcement
- Causing a complaint, indictment, information, or probation or parole violation to be sought and prosecuted, or assisting in such prosecution
- Arresting, causing, or seeking the arrest of a person in connection with a crime
Dissuading a witness is charged as a felony when committed knowingly and maliciously under any of the following circumstances, whether or not the attempt to dissuade the witness was successful:
- The act was accompanied by force or violence, or express or implied threat of force or violence, against a witness, victim, third person, or their property.
- The act was committed in furtherance of a conspiracy.
- The person who committed the act had been previously convicted of a violation of Section 136.1, any predecessor law, any federal statute, or any statute of another state that would be a violation of Section 136.1 if prosecuted in California.
- The act was committed for pecuniary (financial) gain, or any other consideration acting upon the request of another person.
Criminal penalties upon conviction of dissuading a witness can vary, depending on whether the crime was charged as a misdemeanor or a felony and the circumstances involved. Factors affecting the severity of the penalties include:
- Presence of a weapon or firearm
- Harm suffered by the witness
- Prior criminal record
- Aggravating circumstances
Conviction of misdemeanor dissuading a witness carries possible penalties of up to one year in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and/or probation. Criminal penalties for felony dissuading a witness are more severe. Upon conviction, you could face up to four years in a state prison and a fine of up to $25,000. The prison sentence could be even longer if a firearm was used or if it is proven you were acting as part of a criminal gang.
Our experienced Los Angeles witness tampering defense lawyers are well-versed in cases involving allegations of dissuading a witness. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your particular case, we may employ any of the following defenses on your behalf:
- No maliciousness: Under Section 136.1, if you are a family member of the witness or victim who interceded to protect that person, there is a presumption under the law that you acted without malice. This means you cannot be convicted of the crime of dissuading a witness.
- No intent: If you were simply engaged in conversation with no intent to dissuade or prevent a victim or witness from testifying or otherwise aiding a criminal prosecution, you were not knowingly and maliciously attempting witness tampering.
- False accusations: The allegations that you committed the crime of dissuading a witness are false and unfounded.
- Unlawful search and seizure or arrest: Law enforcement must have probable cause to arrest you, and citizens are protected from unlawful search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment. Evidence obtained unlawfully by law enforcement is not admissible in court.
If you are facing charges of dissuading a witness in Los Angeles, the sooner you retain an experienced lawyer, the better. Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP have decades of trial experience and a history of successful outcomes for our clients. Contact us at (213) 688-0460 today to schedule a free initial consultation.
- Common Defenses for Tampering or Intimidating Witnesses
- What Is Obstruction of Justice?
- California Penal Code Section 136.1
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