Preventing Witness Testimony: A Bad Idea
It is tempting, when we are facing potentially serious criminal charges, to try to rig the system in our favor by trying to control witness testimony. But in Oklahoma, preventing a witness from testifying is a felony — and that means automatic jail time, if convicted.
Witness intimidation strikes at the heart of the legal system, and Oklahoma — like many jurisdictions — has enacted laws to protect the integrity of the judicial process.
Preventing Witness Testimony in Claremore
In Oklahoma, preventing witness testimony is defined as willful attempt — through force, fear, harassment, physical or mental harm — to prevent or alter a person’s testimony or the production of other evidence in court or their report of abuse or neglect to the proper authorities.
This crime also includes the preventing or attempted preventing of the production of documents, objects or other evidence in court. Likewise, you cannot prevent a witness from making a report of abuse or neglect of a child or elder. The statute makes it illegal to threaten or harass someone who has already given testimony as well.
The statute also makes it illegal to use force or fear to prevent witness testimony. Just threatening to use physical force or to harm a witness is against the law.
The crime is a felony and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Okla. Stat. 21 § 455. Ten years in jail will alter the course of your life, and a felony conviction makes it difficult to get a job or find an apartment.
Witness intimidation can be quite subtle. Mental or emotional intimidation, while subtle, is also against the law. Often it is the fear of impending violence that will cause a witness of change their testimony, or cause them to avoid a court order or subpoena to appear. The severity of the force or fear imposed is an instrumental piece of evidence in the prosecution of this crime. The greater the force or threat used, in all likelihood, the longer the prison sentence upon conviction.
Your attorney will caution you to avoid all contact with witnesses during any court proceeding. But sometimes that can be difficult. If you must have some contact with a witness, it is important that you minimize the contact and that all contact be above board. Avoid any action that could possibly be interpreted as intimidating, threatening or the like.
If you are facing charges for witness intimidation, it is imperative that you hire an experienced Claremore criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
There are defenses that you and your attorney should explore. For example, the intimidation must be made with the intent to prevent the testimony. If it was to for another purpose, you may have a defense. Likewise, if the intimidation happened long before the witness is to testify, the lack of proximity in time may be a defense that you can use.
Your attorney will know what arguments may be persuasive to a particular judge and which will not.
Free Consultation With An Experienced Claremore Criminal Defense Attorney
Intimidating a witness can mean long jail time. This is not a charge to be taken lightly. Contact us today for your free consultation. The Claremore lawyer will work hard to preserve your freedom. And the initial consultation 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.