Witness tampering in Miami occurs when a person offers a benefit of any kind to a witness in a judicial hearing. The intent of the person engaged in this offense is typically to influence the potential witness into providing false testimony.
Witness testimonies can be valued as vital evidence in police proceedings and future trials. Because the testimony of a witness can be crucial to a lawsuit, it is not uncommon for accused suspects to intimidate, harass, or menace witnesses in an attempt to scare them so that they do not speak to law enforcement or provide essential testimony on the stand.
You are usually forbidden from directly engaging with any witness, source, or survivor while you are a party to criminal or civil prosecution. These laws are in order to defend those who testify against intimidation or threats and to facilitate the free flow of evidence in court.
If a defendant is threatening or causing harassment to a witness, under Section 914.22 of the Florida Statutes, that person is committing a crime, exploiting or harassing a witness, victim, or informant. Whether a person intentionally threatens another person, or uses coercion or physical force, or provides other immediate financial benefits in order to compel the other person into:
- Withholding their evidence from a proceeding or prosecution.
- Retaining an inquiry or proceeding paper, record, or other items.
- Changing, destroying, or covering an object in order to destroy the availableness or use of the object in an investigation or proceeding.
- Avoiding the judicial proceedings under which the person was called as a witness or requested to provide a report or document.
- Not turning up for an official proceeding to which the person has been summoned.
- Preventing or postponing the person from relaying information about the committing of a felony, or a breach of probation or parole, to the police or a judge.
- Convincing the victim to provide untruths in a proceeding or a criminal inquiry.
Depending on the classification of the underlying crime, penalties for tampering with or threatening a witness, suspect, or informant differ. For example, if the actual crime is a misdemeanor, tampering would be charged as a criminal offense in the third degree. A tampering charge can be charged as a third-degree felony, a second-degree felony, a first-degree felony, and a life felony. The variety of punishment is considerably distinct.
The prosecution also needs to present strong and compelling proof of the crime if you are convicted of witness tampering. It is insufficient for a witness, as an example, to contact the prosecution to tell them that you attempted to get them to lie under oath, or that if they did not revoke their evidence, you threatened their integrity. Beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecutors must show that you have participated in witness tampering and/or coercion, which would necessitate hard evidence.
A video recording, a statement in writing from you to the witness, a phone call recording, or text messaging may provide hard facts. The prosecution will also be able to make a strong argument against you if the tampering was done orally, with no tangible proof, whether they have any sort of proof that corroborates what the victim claimed, such as a firearm purchase receipt shortly after they said the threats were made by you, or a traffic ticket is given out on the same day the threat was purportedly administered, and on the same street where the victim resides.
There are a number of defenses available for Witness Tampering. If you or someone you know has been charged with Witness Tampering, we encourage you to contact the Law Offices of Mark Eiglarsh immediately. By choosing our firm, you will be zealously represented and your rights will be protected.
The general information provided above about witness tampering in Fort Lauderdale is meant for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for speaking directly with an attorney about the facts and circumstances of your case. Please call 954.500.0003 in Broward or 305.674.0003 in Miami to schedule a consultation with the Law Offices of Mark Eiglarsh.