Legal Dictionary

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Preventing a Witness from Testifying

Preventing a witness or victim from testifying, also known as dissuading a witness, is a legal term that specifically refers to the criminal act of intimidating or precluding a witness or victim into not testifying. Penal Code section 136.1, California's law against intimidating or threatening victims or witnesses, makes it a crime to prevent or dissuade any witness or victim from attending or giving testimony at any trial, court proceeding or inquiry authorized by law.

Prosecutors can charge this crime as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the surrounding circumstances. A conviction for intimidating or dissuading a witness is punishable by a year in county jail or up to three years in state prison. If force is threatened or used against the victim or witness then the offense is a felony punishable by two to four years in state prison.

There are a number of legal defenses that a skilled criminal defense attorney can present on your behalf. Consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your legal options. For example, it is no defense that the defendant (or accused) failed to prevent the witness from testifying. Nor is it a defense that no one was actually physically injured.