Charged with intimidating a victim

TV shows and movies are chock full of hard-boiled detectives who put the squeeze on a local informant to get information.

But criminal witness intimidation is typically much less glamorous.

Charged with intimidating a victim

Even if the court does not forbid contact, this is a best practice because contact can lead to accusations of witness tampering, whether or not tampering actually occurred.

But what if a witness in a case is a party’s spouse, close relative, friend or co-worker?

Others require a use of force, threat of force, or use of intimidation or coercion.

Under the first type of statute, simply asking a witness to testify in your favor constitutes witness tampering.

For instance, if the defendant pays someone to contact a witness or is involved in planning a threat or attack on a witness, he could be charged with witness intimidation or conspiracy to commit the crime.

In criminal cases, defendants often are ordered not to have contact with any witnesses while the case is pending.

Without that intent, there is no criminal intimidation.

Consider this: A particularly scary mugger would not be charged with intimidating a witness merely for making the victim apprehensive of reporting the crime; the mugger would need to have the intent to dissuade his victim from reporting the crime.

A defendant should never do this alone (or without an attorney present) as it can easily result in the witness perceiving the conversation as an attempt to influence testimony.

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