Dissuading or Preventing a Witness from Testifying
CA Penal Code Sections 136.1(a) thru 137(b)
The law against dissuading or preventing a witness from testifying is found at California PC 136.1(a) and 137(b).
The most common charge of dissuading or preventing a witness from testifying is found at penal code section 136.1(a). For that reason, this article deals mostly with that charge; however, we have included information on similar crimes at the bottom of this article.
The law of PC 136.1(a)
To prove that the defendant dissuaded, or attempted to dissuade, a witness from testifying, the District Attorney must prove:
- The Defendant used force or threats against a victim or witness
- When the Defendant used force or threats against a victim his or her purpose was to influence a witness either to not testify, or to testify falsely.
Dissuading a witness inncludes bribery, threats, force, physical interference, and, physical preventing. Any witness or victim in a civil or criminal proceeding may be a victim.
The Defendant may also be charged under PC 136.1(a) if he dissuaded a witness from giving important information to a prosecutor, defense attorney, or police officer.
Penalties & Sentence for PC 136.1(a)
Almost every criminal charge of dissuading or preventing a witness from testifying under PC 136.1(a) is classified as a felony. Non-threatening dissuading or preventing a wtiness from testifying could be classified as misdemeanor.
If found guilty of felony preventing or dissuading a witness from testifying, the defendant could face up to three years in prison. Misdemeanor PC 136.1(a) convictions subject the defendant to up to 180 days in the county jail as a maximum sentence.
In addition to any possible jail time, if found guilty of dissuading or preventing a witness from testifying under PC 136.1(a), the defendant may suffer other penalties, including, but not limited to, civil lawsuits, fines, probation or parole terms, restraining orders, and more.
Dissuading or preventing a witness from testifying is considered a strike offense under California's Three Strikes Law. The crime is also considered a crime of moral turpitude, which may have negative impact on immigration and professional licensing issues with the defendant.
Defense to Dissuade a Witness (PC 136.1(a)
Common defenses to PC 136.1(a), include: statute of limitations, insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, mistake of fact, insanity, and more.
Note: It is not a defense for the defendant to prove that the witness was not actually intimidated, prevented, or dissuaded, from testifying. The crime is complete upon proof that there was at least an attempt to dissuade or prevent a witness from testifying.
If you are charged with dissuading or preventing a witness from testifying (aka intimidating a witness) under California penal code sections 136.1(a) or 137, contact our criminal defense attorneys without delay. We offer free consultations and we are available 24hrs a day and 7days a week. Call today!
Related crimes to PC 136.1 & 137 include:
- PC 136.1(b)(1) Prevent victim from making report;
- PC 136.1(c) Dissuade witness or victim;
- PC 136.1(c)(2) Conspire to dissuade witness;
- PC 136.1(c)(3) Dissuade witness with prior;
- PC 136.1(c)(4) Dissuade witness for financial gain;
- PC 137(a) Induce false testimony by bribing;
- PC 137(b) Induce false testimony by force or threat;
- PC 137(c) Induce false testimony;
- PC 138 Bribing witness/victim not to attend trial
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