Intimidating a witness may seem like a good idea when we are facing potentially serious criminal charges. After all, if we can prevent witness testimony that is harmful to us or get a witness to change their testimony to something in line with our needs, what’s the harm?
But intimidating a witness from either prevent or alter their testimony is a felony in Claremore, Oklahoma. This is a crime that chips away at the integrity of the judicial process. Therefore, courts tend to treat it seriously.
If you are being charged, you should treat it seriously as well. Courts do not like being undermined.
Intimidating a Witness Defined
Oklahoma law defines witness intimidation as:
- the willful attempt through force, fear, harassment, or physical or mental harm
- to prevent or alter a person’s testimony,
- the production of other evidence in court, or
- their report of abuse or neglect to the proper authorities.
Examples of Witness Intimidation in Claremore
The stereotypical example of witness intimidation grows out of the old mafia-style prosecutions where a little man in the organization who has a fair amount of knowledge about the organization is caught and turns state’s witness. Organization officials (subtly or not) threaten that if the witness attempts to give testimony against them, that the witness or his family will meet with an “accident.” The witness then fails to appear in fear for his life and the safety of his family.
However, this crime actually occurs in varying ways and in varying settings.
It can come up when an employee who is going to report sexual harassment is told that people who do so at this company are passed over for promotion or are summarily fired.
It can happen when a witness destroys documents in a case when threatened.
And it often happens in abuse cases when a victim is told that they or their family members will be hurt or killed if they report the abuse.
The law in Oklahoma is broad in its application. It prohibits all of these aforementioned examples and more.
It is prohibited to attempt to prevent a witness from making a report of abuse or neglect of a child or elder. The statute also makes it illegal to threaten or harass someone who has already given testimony.
Merely threatening to use physical force or to harm a witness is against the law; the physical harm does not need to be completed in order for the law to be broken.
If you are facing charges, these same witnesses that you have threatened or hurt will be the prosecution’s star witnesses against you. You can expect that their testimony will center on the threats made, their fear, and how they reacted to that fear.
Penalties for Intimidating a Witness
The crime is a felony. It is punishable by up 1 to 10 years in prison. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 455
The more egregious the threat or actions involved in the intimidation, the longer the sentence you can expect to receive if convicted.
Contact Between Witnesses and Defendants
In all criminal cases, defendants are usually ordered not to have any contact with potential witnesses. In fact, your attorney will caution you to avoid all contact with witnesses during any court proceeding.
However, this can be difficult depending on the circumstances and relationships involved. What if the witness is a close friend or relative?
While it may be difficult, you should steer clear of discussing any case matters with them. Even innocent discussions can be misinterpreted. Leave those discussions to your attorney.
There are defenses that you and your attorney should explore.
For example, the intimidation must be made with the intent to prevent or alter the testimony. If it was done for another purpose or was done accidentally, you may have a defense.
Likewise, if the intimidation happened long before the witness was to testify, that may be a defense that you can use. Your attorney will know what arguments may be persuasive.
If you are facing charges for witness intimidation, it is imperative that you hire an experienced Claremore lawyer as soon as possible.
Free Consultation with an Experienced Claremore Criminal Defense Attorney
Freedom is precious. Don’t try to go this one alone. Get the help you need.
Claremore Lawyer is here to help you. Don’t delay. Call us today.
And your initial consultation with a Claremore criminal defense attorney is free. Call us at 918-213-0950.
If you prefer written correspondence, submit your question using the form at the top right of this page.