Criminal Defense

Why Defendants Shouldn’t Contact Witnesses By Themselves

August 10, 2022 by Madison Ferguson in Criminal Defense  
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Your Lawyer Will Contact Them if Needed

Defendants shouldn’t speak to witnesses during criminal court proceedings. The judge typically directs the defendant not to contact any witnesses. Because of this, any words a defendant makes to a third party might be used against them in court on allegations of intimidating or dissuading a witness.

Witness interference or tampering is criminal conduct in criminal trials that may be punished depending on the event’s seriousness as a misdemeanor or a felony. Witness interference may include bribing or threatening witnesses, stopping witnesses from attending court hearings or depositions, and giving bribes or threats to witnesses.

Defendants can tamper with the witnesses’ testimony to change the case’s outcome and the jury’s judgment. Because of the potential for further charges, this is exceedingly risky. Although not every communication between a defendant and a witness is ill-motivated, defendants are often instructed not to have contact with witnesses. If the court does not prohibit contact, it is advisable to avoid contacting a witness since any contact may be used in claims of witness tampering, whether or not the tampering happened.

Charges Of Witness Tampering

How would the prosecution handle a witness who claims that the defendant sought to influence or impede the witness’s testimony? A prosecution must establish beyond a doubt meant to influence the witness’ testimony and committed activities specified in the state’s witness tampering or intimidation legislation if a witness tampering charge is brought.

To get a conviction, the prosecution must be able to show that some form of other evidence backs up the witness’s claims. If the conversation happened privately, the witness’s word and a small piece of evidence might be enough to get the defendant convicted. This is why it’s so essential for defendants not to talk to witnesses alone, especially those who could hurt their case. Your sentence’s severity is determined by your case’s circumstances and previous criminal record.

A year in prison and a $2,500 fine are the maximum penalties for a misdemeanor.

As a felony, the penalties are far more severe, ranging from up to four years in prison and a fine of $10,000. The 10-year limitation on handgun ownership will also apply if a person is convicted of the crime.

If you’re found guilty of witness tampering, the judge’s punishment may be enhanced by other circumstances. A maximum of life and at least seven in prison would be added to your sentence if you tried to tamper with a witness for the benefit of an organization. If you’ve been convicted of witness tampering, you’ll also face jail time, fines, and weapon ownership limitations. Gun ownership restriction is likewise warranted in case of a criminal conviction, but the prohibition is permanent.

What happens if a witness is a member of your family or a close friend?

Witnesses who are spouses, relatives, close friends, or coworkers of defendants are examples of close witnesses. With witnesses in these situations, it’s challenging to state that you cannot have any contact with them whatsoever. Consider the fact that criminal trials might last for many months. The defendant may still converse and come in touch with a witness close to him, but you should avoid discussing the matter with the witnesses. Anyone who wants to talk about the case should do so in front of a lawyer who will represent them in court. If you’re unsure whether you should speak to a witness, you should get legal counsel.

Defenses to Witness Tampering

A presumption of innocence applies if you intervened to safeguard a witness or victim on behalf of a witness or victim’s family member. If you were merely chatting with someone and had no intention of swaying a witness or victim away from testifying, you were not deliberately trying witness tampering. As a result, you can’t be held accountable for attempting to sway a witness against you. Your attorney can also argue that the charges are unsupported and baseless.

An good criminal defense attorney should be consulted if you have been suspected of or charged with intimidating or interfering with a witness. Make sure to discuss this matter with your lawyer and any contact with witnesses involved in the case that you may need or wish to have. Be ready to heed your lawyer’s advice to avoid further criminal accusations.

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Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Attorney who has over 21 years of practice defending a variety of cases.

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How to Win Your Case

We cannot stress enough that you read, understand and follow these 10 basic rules if you are criminally charged or under investigation:

  1. Don’t ever talk to the police
  2. Do not discuss your case with anyone
  3. Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential
  4. Tell police you need to contact your attorney
  5. Never consent to any search by the police
  6. If the police knock on your door, don't answer!
  7. Realize the consequences of a criminal conviction
  8. Your lawyer (not you) will contact any witnesses
  9. Information on your cell phone is evidence
  10. Early Intervention is the key

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