Criminal cases of all different kinds often rely on different type of evidence and witness testimony. Eyewitness testimony is often heavily relied on in certain types of cases. If a witness changes his or her story, there may be suspicion of witness tampering. Witness tampering is a crime that involves the intimidation or threat of force used against a witness with the intent of making that witness change his or her story or even abstain from giving testimony altogether. If you’re being charged with witness tampering, it’s important to speak with a criminal defense attorney about your case immediately, because these charges are serious.
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Attempting to Prevent a Witness From Testifying
Any actions that can be interpreted as behavior that attempts to prevent a witness from testifying can be considered witness tampering, so it’s important for people to understand how important it is to take these situations very seriously. If a person tries to get a witness to change his or her story, that’s also considered witness tampering. In most cases, witness tampering is a felony and can result in additional years behind bars, if convicted. Listed below are the elements of witness tampering as a crime.
Elements of Witness Tampering Crime
- A witness has upcoming testimony to give.
- Intimidation, threat or physical force is used against witness.
- There was intent to influence the witness to change testimony or abstain from testifying.
Threats, Intimidation or Use of Force
A variety of actions, behaviors and communications can be construed as “intimidation.” Physical force is obviously a form of intimidation and an action that can be considered an element of witness tampering, especially if there is intent to get the witness to change his or her testimony. Threats of force, even by a third party, could also be seen as a type of witness tampering. Any kind of force, threat, intimidation or harassment of a witness can satisfy one of the elements of witness tampering.
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Intentional Harassment of Witness
In any case involving witness tampering, it will be critical to show that there was also intent to change a witness’ behavior with the harassment or intimidation. A simple altercation, argument or communication with a witness may not be tampering. There has to be intent to persuade the witness to change his or her story or to abstain from testifying or giving their testimony. It will be necessary for the prosecution to show that there was intent to change a witness’ behavior in order for the elements of witness tampering to be satisfied.
Preventing a Witness From Giving Testimony
Any behavior or communication that prevents a witness from giving testimony can be considered witness tampering. In many cases, there could be other people or third parties involved. Cases involving issues such as witness tampering can get very complicated during jury trials. If a witness in influenced, intimidated or persuaded in any way, with the intent to prevent them from testifying, you could be looking at witness tampering charges. Obviously, the most serious form of witness tampering will involve violence, but in many cases, there is just the threat of violence or harassment.
Penalties Associated With Witness Tampering
The Court takes witness tampering very seriously. This is a felony charge, and that means that you could be facing more than a year behind bars, if convicted. If there is physical violence or the threat of physical violence, you could be looking at higher sentences as well. In addition to fines and court costs, you could be looking at five, ten or more years in a federal correctional facility, if convicted of witness tampering and any other associated charges that may be involved in your particular case.
Witness Tampering Defense Lawyer in Jackson
Witness tampering can occur at just about any level. From small misdemeanor crimes to felony drug charges, a case involving witness tampering charges instantly becomes much more complicated. After any kind of arrest or charge associated with witness tampering, it’s important to speak with a criminal defense lawyer who has proven case experience. No matter what charges you’re facing, it’s a good idea to speak with a lawyer. A lawyer can be your advocate as you focus on getting through a tough time. Contacting a lawyer as swiftly as possible after your arrest is the only way to ensure you have the best possible outcome for your individual case.
If you are facing witness tampering charges or if a loved one is facing any related criminal charges in Jackson or in any of the surrounding Metro Area communities, contact the skilled and proven Criminal Defense team at Coxwell & Associates, PLLC at (601) 265-7766 for a free case consultation today.