Witness Intimidation

Witness Intimidation (also known as 'Witness Dissuasion')

Witness intimidation is criminalized by California Penal Code Section 136.1. The direct penalties and collateral consequences of a conviction for dissuading a witness can be severe. If you are convicted of misdemeanor witness intimidation, you can face up to one year in the county jail and up to $1,000 fine.

Additionally, a misdemeanor witness intimidation conviction will prevent you from owning or possessing a firearm for 10 years.

As bad as a misdemeanor conviction is, a felony 136.1 conviction is even worse. A felony conviction could lead to 16 months to four years in a California state prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Given these extremely harsh potential consequences, wouldn't you want only the most aggressive, knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense counsel on your side?

What do prosecutors need to show to convict me of intimidating or dissuading a witness?

To be convicted of violating California Penal Code Section 136.1, witness intimidation, the prosecutor must show:

  1. You maliciously tried to prevent or discourage a witness from:
    • giving testimony at judicial proceeding or inquiry
    • making a report that the witness or someone else was a victim of a crime
    • cooperating or providing information so that a complaint (or other charging document) could be sought and prosecuted and from helping to prosecute that action
    • arresting or causing or seeking the arrest of someone in connection with a crime

    AND

  2. You acted with intent.

What defenses can your Torrance witness intimidation defense lawyers use to protect me from a conviction?

Not a witness

A witness is someone (or a person whom you reasonably believe to be someone) who:

  • knows about the existence or nonexistence of facts relating to a crime
  • has submitted a declaration under oath that has been or may be received as evidence
  • has reported a crime
  • has been served with a subpoena issued by a state or federal court.

The person you are accused of having dissuaded may have had nothing to do with the facts of the alleged case. For example, suppose Jan is accused of having killed Marcia in a fit of rage. Greg, who is unaware of the killing, is approached by Jan, who tells him "not to say anything." Greg has no idea what she is talking about. The police then arrest Jan on suspicion of Marcia's murder and subpoena Greg as a character witness regarding Jan's jealousy of Marcia.

Jan's Torrance criminal defense lawyer can probably successfully argue that she did not reasonably believe Greg would be a witness because he did not know about the crime.

No intent

Based on the circumstances of your case, our Torrance attorneys may be able to argue that your communication or interaction with the alleged witness was not intended to prevent that person from testifying or otherwise cooperating with an investigation or prosecution.

Factual innocence

Often, witness intimidation cases arise out of interpersonal disputes between spouses or romantic partners (domestic violence), assault cases or some other situation where the complaining witness may have a grudge against the defendant (i.e., some other motive to lie). The resentful mind of a complaining witness can be the breeding ground for a miscarriage of justice where the defendant is falsely accused. We will investigate the source of the accusation and verify its genuineness. Our Torrance criminal defense lawyers will fight aggressively and unrelentingly to protect you against a false accusation of witness intimidation.

Contact Ernenwein & Johnson, LLP, Now!

We are experienced Torrance criminal defense lawyers and will use all available defenses to protect you against a conviction. We have over 40 years of experience defending people accused of witness intimidation and other crimes.

We are former Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, so we know how the prosecution operates.

Robert Ernenwein is Certified as a Criminal Law Specialist by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. He has been named a Super Lawyer by Los Angeles magazine and has appeared as a legal analyst on multiple cable news programs, including Fox News.

If you are charged with witness intimidation, call us at 424-552-3901 or email us immediately for a free consultation. Our office is conveniently located minutes away from the Torrance Courthouse and we represent clients there on a daily basis, as well as in other courts throughout Southern California.