If you watch crime shows on television or movies involving criminal cases,
you’ve probably seen episodes or films where a witness was intimidated
by the perpetrators of a crime. For example, a man witnesses a gang-related
crime and the leader of the gang comes up to the man and says something
to the effect of, “If you go to the police, we’ll hunt you
down and take you out.” This is one scenario where Hollywood does
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for witnesses of crimes to be threatened,
especially when the prosecution’s case relies heavily on eyewitness
testimony. That being said, California, like other states, has adopted
a law that makes intimidating a witness a crime.
Under Chapter 6,
Section 136.1 of the California Penal Code, it is against the law to influence, intimidate,
or threaten a witness. Under this section, it’s illegal to knowingly
- Prevent or dissuade a witness or victim from giving their testimony at
any inquiry, legal proceeding or trial.
- Attempt to prevent a witness or victim from attending trial or any legal
proceeding or inquiry.
The act of influencing, intimidating or threatening a witness under Sec.
136.1 is a public offense, punishable by up to
one year in county jail or state prison. However, the offense is a
felony under the following circumstances, punishable by
two, three, or four years in state prison:
- The act was accompanied by force.
- The act involved the implied threat of violence or force.
- The act involved a threat of violence against a third person (e.g. the
victim’s friends or family).
- The act furthered some sort of a conspiracy.
- The act was committed by someone for financial gain (the actor was paid
to intimidate, threaten or harm the victim or witness). Anyone who participates
in such a transaction commits a felony.
According to Sec. 136.1(e) of the California Penal Code, “Nothing
in this section precludes the imposition of an enhancement for great bodily
injury where the injury inflicted is significant or substantial.”
Looking for an Orange County
criminal defense attorney?
Contact our firm to schedule a free case evaluation.