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What is witness tampering?

| Mar 23, 2021 | Criminal Defense

As its name implies, witness tampering involves illegally interfering with or influencing a witness in either a criminal or civil case.

As FindLaw explains, you can face witness tampering charges if you allegedly do any of the following:

  • Cause or attempt to cause someone to withhold testimony or information
  • Cause or attempt to cause someone to falsely testify or give false information
  • Cause or attempt to cause someone to miss a hearing or other legal proceeding to which he or she received a summons to testify

Elements

To convict you of witness tampering, the prosecutor must prove all of the following:

  • That you knew or had reason to believe that your alleged victim had relevant information in a civil or legal proceeding or was a witness in such a proceeding
  • That you knew or had reason to believe that the person’s information was relevant to the case
  • That you intentionally tried to convince the person to withhold the information he or she possessed or to falsely testify at the proceeding

Keep in mind that the prosecution does not need to prove that you succeeded in your alleged witness tampering efforts. Proving your intent to do so is enough for a conviction.

Forms

Witness tampering can take a variety of forms, including the following:

  • Using any type of physical force against your alleged victim
  • Threatening to use any type of physical force against your alleged victim
  • Blackmailing, bribing or using any other type of corrupt persuasion on your alleged victim

Defenses

If accused of witness tampering, your defenses include such things as lack of intent, truth seeking on your part and insufficient evidence on the part of the prosecution.