Home » San Diego Crimes Against The Police And Government Lawyer » Witness Tampering
Witness tampering, which is also referred to as dissuading a witness or a victim is a crime meant to protect the integrity of the criminal judicial system. When witnesses or victims can be interfered with without consequences, this can send a message to other potential witnesses that the system lacks justice. Accordingly, California Penal Code 136.1 prohibits this behavior.
Witness tampering is taken very seriously, especially by those who work daily to bring the perpetrators of crimes to justice. Accordingly, the offense carries consequences that can significantly affect your freedom. If you have been charged, you will need a competent San Diego crimes against the police lawyer.
Why Was I Charged?
Witness tampering includes preventing a witness or a victim of a crime from reporting that crime or testifying in court. The act is also equally criminal if someone attempts to tamper with a witness.
Generally, witness tampering is classified as a wobbler under California law. Accordingly, the prosecutor, depending on the particulars of the case, can proceed as a misdemeanor or as a felony. However, the crime will be an automatic felony if your actions were part of a conspiracy, there was the use of force, you hired someone to carry out the crime, or you have a previous conviction for witness tampering.
Will I Be Sent To Jail?
There is no doubt that tampering with a witness is serious. Whether you will face jail time and the length of your sentence will depend on a number of factors. In addition to the facts of your case and your criminal record, penalties will depend on whether the charge was a misdemeanor or you were convicted of felony witness tampering.
As a misdemeanor, you could be facing a maximum jail time of one year and a misdemeanor level fine. In addition, a conviction will result in 10-year restriction on owning a firearm. As a felony, the penalties are significantly higher, with upwards of 4 years behind bars and a maximum fine of $10,000. A felony conviction will also warrant firearm ownership restriction, but the ban is for life.
There are other factors that may enhance the sentence imposed by a judge if you are found guilty of witness tampering. If a firearm was used in the furtherance of the crime, one to ten years could be added to your jail time. If you pursued the witness tampering for the benefit of an organization, a minimum of seven years and a maximum of life will be added to your sentence.
In addition to prison time, fines, and firearm ownership restrictions, a conviction of witness tampering is also classified as a strike on your record.
How Can I Defend Myself?
A witness tampering conviction can carry a very lengthy jail sentence. Accordingly, it is important to treat your defense with a high priority. The first step in doing so is to hire an experienced San Diego witness tampering defense lawyer. The legal work that must be done to prepare a sound defense includes pre-trial investigation and research. In some instances, and depending on the evidence or, lack thereof, the prosecution has, you could have your charges reduced or dismissed.
If your case must go to trial, it is important that you understand that the law presumes that you are innocent, until proven guilty in a court of law. While it is the duty of the prosecution to prove that guilt, being in a position to put forward a strong defense will only benefit your situation.
Each case is different and your lawyer will be equipped to give you the required legal information and advice on how to proceed at trial. Nevertheless, the following defenses are available to you:
- Lack of the criminal intent required for the crime of witness tampering.
- You are the victim of a false accusation or wrongful arrest.
- There is insufficient evidence to prove all or any one of the elements of the crime.
Call A San Diego Witness Tampering Defense Lawyer
While the consequences of witness tampering seem grave, it is important to note that McElfresh Law has been providing high-quality legal representation to individuals charged with serious crimes for several years. We have the experience and an in-depth knowledge of the law that will be helpful in your fight to secure a not guilty verdict at your witness tampering trial.
If you need to speak with a San Diego criminal defense lawyer, call us today at (858) 756-7107 to discuss your case.