Dissuading A Witness
Under California Penal Code Section 136.1, it is a crime in California to intimidate or dissuade a witness from testifying. Dissuading a witness is a “wobbler” and can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. If charged as a misdemeanor the maximum jail time is 1 year. If charged as a felony the sentencing triad can be 16 months, 2 years or 3 years in custody. However under certain circumstances the sentencing triad can be 2 years, 3 years or 4 years in custody. Additionally, a felony conviction of this charge is a “strike” under the California “three strikes law” and can be used to increase punishment for future crimes.
A conviction for dissuading a witness has several negative consequences. The obvious consequence is having a permanent criminal record. Employers use criminal records to assist in their hiring decision. A criminal record, especially for this type of a crime would make it difficult to maintain or obtain employment. A conviction could also have negative consequences with immigration (deportation from country), family law (child custody or support), firearms ban (10 years for misdemeanor, life with felony or domestic violence conviction.)
Under California Criminal Jury Instructions (CALCRIM 2622) The prosecutor must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt to garner a conviction at trial:
- The accused maliciously tried to prevent(ed) or discourage(ed) a person
- from giving in court testimony or
- from making a report of alleged victimization or
- from cooperating or providing information to assist in criminal prosecution or
- from arresting or seeking the arrest of someone in connection with a crime
- That person who accused allegedly sought to influence was a witness or crime victim
- The accused knew and intended to prevent or discourage this person.
A witness is a person that you know or reasonably should know who:
- Has knowledge of a crime or
- Has submitted a declaration under oath that may be used as evidence or
- Has reported criminal activity
- Has been served with a subpoena issued by a court (federal or state)
Attorneys with The Bogan Law Firm, A Professional Corporation might be able to successfully argue that the accused did not intend on dissuading a witnesses. This depends upon the circumstances of the case and may or may not apply to the facts in your case.Factual innocence
Many times, this crime arises out of disputes between spouses or lovers in a domestic violence scenario. It also arises quite often in assault cases or cases where the parties have a grudge or motivation to lie about the events. A resentful party can be very vindictive and falsely accuse someone of this type of crime. The Bogan Law Firm, A Professional Corporation will fully investigate the allegations and any motives behind the allegation to ensure you are fully protected.
Contact The Bogan Law Firm, A Professional Corporation immediately at 209-565-3425 for further questions about Penal Code § 136.1.