The Crime of intimidating a Witness - PC 136.1
Witness intimidation is covered under California Penal Code 136.1. It's a criminal offense in Los Angeles to knowingly and maliciously prevent a victim or witness from providing testimony at trial.
By law, it makes no difference if a defendant was actually successful in preventing testimony. Just the attempt to intimidate a victim or witness is sufficient for a defendant to be criminally charged with witness intimidation.
Furthermore, it makes no difference if a victim or witness was injured or intimidated as a result of the attempts to prevent them from cooperating with Los Angeles police or LA County prosecutors. In simple terms, it is illegal to:
- threaten a victim or witness;
- through intimidation;
- whether verbally or physically.
Intimidating witness criminal charges in Los Angeles are often connected to a domestic violence case.
Raising your voice, screaming, yelling, throwing or breaking items in the house could be deemed to be forms of intimidation and domestic violence.
Intimidating a partner is a criminal offense and the charges could be filed against any individual who shares a household.
This includes a husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, divorced spouses, among others.
The types of illegal intimidation can include threats to prevent a partner from communicating with police detectives, filing a police report, or giving testimony in a court trial.
See related information: Bribery of a Witness.
If you have been charged with witness intimidation in a domestic violence case, you need to immediately consult with an experienced Los Angeles domestic violence attorney at our law firm to review the details of your case and discuss legal options and a defense strategy.
Do not make any statements to Los Angeles police detectives. It's critical to remain silent.
Intimidating a Witness or Victim - California Penal Code Section 136.1
In order to prove accusations of intimidating a victim or witness in Los Angeles, the prosecutor has to prove in court that a defendant knowingly and maliciously prevented or dissuaded, or just attempted to prevent or dissuade a victim or witness:
- Reporting a crime to police;
- Assisting police detectives during an investigation;
- Appearing at or testifying during a legal court proceeding;
- Cooperating with prosecution of a crime.
The charges of intimidating a witness can be filed as a misdemeanor or felony case in Los Angeles. A criminal charge of intimidation is sometimes related to other domestic violence charges, such as:
Accusations of intimidation can be disputed and sometimes false. These types of criminal cases are often difficult for a jury to evaluate. It's not uncommon for the case to come down to which person is believed. Speak to a Los Angeles witness intimidation defense attorney for more information about your case.
See related blog: Intimidating a witness of victim law.
Legal Penalties for a Witness Intimidation Conviction
If a defendant is convicted of a misdemeanor witness intimidation case in Los Angeles, they could face:
- up to one year in a Los Angeles County jail and a fine up to $1,000.
If convicted of a felony offense, they could face:
- up to four years in a California state prison and a fine up to $10,000.
A violation of a restraining order could result in a contempt of court under California Penal Code Section 166. Violating a restraining order can lead to jail time and a fine. Penal Code 29825 PC defines the crime of firearm possession in violation of a court order.
Legal Defenses against Witness Intimidation Charges
In a domestic violence case, angry spouses can sometimes falsely accuse their partner for a variety of reasons.
Verbal communication can get out of hand in a marriage or other relationships. It is an unfortunate consequence that a fight can escalate to the point where police get involved and criminal charges are filed.
It's possible the abused partner may file false charges in an attempt to get the upper hand in a domestic violence dispute or child custody case.
Since an alleged victim of a domestic violence case can typically claim they have been abused without any physical evidence, it's an easy method for them to have the alleged abuser spend some time in jail.
A skilled Los Angeles domestic violence lawyer may be able to prove the prosecutor does not have sufficient corroborating evidence, such as something in writing, text, or voice recording.
Call a Los Angeles Intimidation Defense Attorney
If you are facing charges of witness intimidation in a domestic violence case in Los Angeles County, it's a very serious legal issue.
A conviction could have a dramatic impact on your life.
At the criminal law firm of Eisner Gorin LLP, a Los Angeles domestic violence attorney at our law firm will take immediate action to protect your legal rights and freedom.
Early intervention into your case by one of our experienced attorneys is critical to the outcome of your witness intimidation case.
Our law firm has decades of experienced defending clients against any type of domestic violence accusation and have a track record of success.
Call our lawyers for a free immediate response at 877-781-1570.