What is the Crime of Intimidation of a Witness? (PC 136.1)
The crime of intimidating a witness requires proof that the defendant maliciously tried to or succeeded in preventing a witness from giving testimony or making a report of a crime. The conduct has to be done on purpose Knowingly and Maliciously: The individual accused of the offense must have the intent to knowingly and maliciously prevent or dissuade a victim, witness, or informant.
Preventing or Dissuading: This can involve threats, force, intimidation, or any other unlawful means aimed at preventing or dissuading the person from attending or giving testimony in a legal proceeding.
Borderline cases arise when the phrasing of the request not to report or not to testify is couched in non-confrontational terms but carries what the prosecution argues is an implied threat.
A violation of Penal Code section 136.1(a) or (b) is a felony or a misdemeanor. The highest sentence is three years in state prison. If the defendant is also charged with one of the sentencing factors in Penal Code section 136.1(c), then the offense is a felony punishable by two, three, or four years.
The subsection (c) additional harm factors are:
(1) Where the act is accompanied by force or by an express or implied threat of force or violence, upon a witness or victim or any third person or the property of any victim, witness, or any third person.
(2) Where the act is in furtherance of a conspiracy.
(3) Where the act is committed by any person who has been convicted of any violation of this section, any predecessor law hereto or any federal statute or statute of any other state which, if the act prosecuted was committed in this state, would be a violation of this section.
(4) Where the act is committed by any person for pecuniary gain or for any other consideration acting upon the request of any other person. All parties to such a transaction are guilty of a felony.