You are being investigated or accused of a crime, and the person on the other side—the "victim"—is someone you believe you can reason with. Maybe if they just heard your side of the story, they would understand, right? Slow down and take a breath. It might seem reasonable to reach out to clear the air, but this moment calls for caution rather than action.
Never Contact The Victim
Reaching out to a victim is never a good idea. Even if you believe the allegations against you are unfounded, making contact can do more harm than good. Reaching out to the victim through a friend is equivalent to you contacting the victim. This is not advisable.
Why You Should Never Contact A Victim
First off, no matter how good your intentions are, reaching out might aggravate your legal situation. Prosecutors may interpret your contact as an attempt to influence the victim, or worse, as witness intimidation or witness tampering. In California, for instance, you could face criminal charges under Penal Code section 136.1, known as Dissuading a Witness. This law makes it a crime to prevent a victim or witness from reporting or testifying about a crime, leading to additional charges- certainly an outcome to avoid. Penal Code section 136.1 can result in a misdemeanor, with penalties, including up to 1 year in county jail, or a felony, carrying up to 4 years in state prison.
Moreover, anything you say can be used against you. An innocuous, "Can we talk?" can be misconstrued, leaving you to not only address the original charges but also allegations of interfering with the case.
What About Social Media?
In our connected age, you might be tempted to send a direct message (DM) or comment on the victim’s social media profiles. Here is a piece of advice – DON’T. The digital trail you leave could be used as evidence in court. Prosecutors are adept at using your own words against you, and social media can serve as a goldmine for them.
Hire The Right Attorney
Navigating the complexities of your legal rights and options is crucial when under investigation or facing charges. Discussing your case with a victim or law enforcement can jeopardize your case and future. Instead, seek the guidance of skilled and experienced lawyers. Contact the lawyers at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners by calling 213-481-6811 and learn how we can best help you and what to expect in your criminal case.