Witnesses and witness testimony are essential to the criminal justice system. Many crimes are brought to the attention of law enforcement by witnesses. Many criminal cases rely extensively on the information and testimony that is provided by witnesses. When you attempt to dissuade or discourage a witness from reporting a crime or helping with the prosecution of a criminal case you can be charged with a very serious crime.
If you are facing criminal charges for witness intimidation in Los Angeles, then contact The Rodriguez Law Group today. Ambrosio E. Rodriguez is a former prosecutor with over 18 years experience. He understands which techniques and strategies the prosecution will use to convict you of this crime. Contact his Los Angeles office today to learn more about how he can help you fight criminal charges for witness intimidation.
In Los Angeles, it is a crime to attempt to prevent another person from reporting a crime or helping in the prosecution of a criminal matter. Your attempts to intimidate a witness do not have to be successful. You can be charged with witness intimidation even if you aren’t successful at keeping a witness from reporting a crime or testifying. In California, a witness is considered anyone who has information about a crime, can offer helpful testimony in a criminal case, or who has been the victim of a crime.
Intimidating a witness, which is defined in California Penal Code 136.1 PC, occurs when you knowingly and maliciously attempt to prevent a witness or victim of a crime from:
- Giving testimony in an official legal proceeding;
- Reporting a crime;
- Cooperating or providing information to aid in the investigation or prosecution of a crime; or
- Causing someone to be arrested for a crime.
There are no requirements that the witness or victim be physically harmed. You can face charges for intimidating a witness in Los Angeles if you:
- Emotionally or psychologically abuse or threaten a witness or victim;
- Threaten imminent bodily harm to the witness, victim, and/or a third party;
- Threaten the safety of the witness, victim, and/or a third party; or
- Restrain the witness or victim.
Penalties for Witness Intimidation
Penalties for intimidating a witness can vary from case to case. In Los Angeles, witness intimidation can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The severity of the criminal charges you face under California Penal Code 136.1 PC for witness intimidation will depend on:
- Harm suffered by the witness;
- Presence of a firearm or weapon;
- Aggravating circumstances; and
- Your existing criminal record.
When you intimidate a witness and no aggravating factors are present, you will likely be charged with a misdemeanor offense. A conviction for misdemeanor witness intimidation carries a possible sentence of:
- One year in a San Diego County jail;
- As much as $1,000 in fines; and/or
Witness intimidation will automatically be charged as a felony when certain aggravating factors are present. The crime of witness intimidation will be charged as a felony in Los Angeles if you:
- Use force or the threat of force against a witness, victim, or third party;
- Act to further a larger criminal conspiracy;
- Were hired by someone else to intimidate the witness or victim; or
- Have been convicted of witness intimidation in the past.
A conviction for felony witness intimidation carries a possible sentence of up to 4 years in a California state penitentiary and fines of up to $25,000. This sentence can be extended by as much as 10 years if you use a firearm or act as part of a criminal gang.
Defending Witness Intimidation Charges
The prosecution will have to establish that you are guilty of intimidating a witness beyond a reasonable doubt. When you hire Ambrosio E. Rodriguez to defend you, he will make it difficult for the prosecution to satisfy this burden of proof. Mr. Rodriguez will argue any legal defense that helps to cast doubt on your guilt. Defenses to the charge of intimidating a witness include:
- You have been falsely accused;
- You were not aware that person was a witness or a victim of a crime;
- You did not intend to discourage or prevent a witness from reporting a crime or testifying;
- You were the victim of an unlawful search and seizure; or
- You were the victim of an unlawful arrest.
Experienced Los Angeles Witness Intimidation Lawyer
Are you or someone you love facing criminal charges for intimidating a witness in Los Angeles? If so, it is important to act quickly and hire an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to represent you. A conviction for witness intimidation will change your life forever. Not only will you face possible time behind bars, but you will also find that it is very difficult to live with a criminal record. Employers, landlords, and banks will be hesitant to work with you or approve any applications you submit. In some situations, you could also lose the right to own a firearm or participate in very helpful government welfare programs. If you hold a professional license you could lose that, too. Choosing to hire an attorney will significantly reduce the likelihood that you will have to live with these consequences.
At The Rodriguez Law Group, we have experienced attorneys who have worked on both sides of the criminal justice system. We know which legal strategies the prosecution will likely use against you and can limit their ability to build a strong case. Contact our Los Angeles office today to set up a free consultation. During this meeting, we will review your case, make sure that your legal rights have not been violated, and answer the questions you have.