California law makes it illegal to dissuade or dissuade a witness or a victim from testifying or reporting a crime you have committed. Some examples of the criminal activity meant to prevent a witness or a victim are when you offer some money to stop the victim's witness from testifying against you. Another scenario is where you can intimidate the witness or the victim to make them promise that they will not testify against you.
Dissuading a witness or a victim of a crime is a wobbler, meaning you can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony; the charges depend on how severe your case is. The penalties, especially those of felony convictions, are severe. Therefore, you need legal representation from a qualified attorney to guide you through the trial process. If the police arrest you for dissuading a witness or a victim in Los Angeles, contact The LA Criminal Defense Law Firm to get the legal representation you need. Our firm has attorneys who are conversant with violent crimes and are available at all times to help you, so your charges for dissuading a witness or a victim are reduced, or your case is dismissed.
Legal Definition for Dissuading a Victim or a Witness
Under the California law, you will be guilty of dissuading a witness or a victim if you do the following:
- You maliciously and knowingly dissuade a victim or witness from attending a trial or testifying, attending a proceeding, or a trial that has been authorized by the law.
- Maliciously attempting to prevent a witness or a victim of a crime from reporting a crime you have committed or testifying in a trial or proceeding authorized by the law.
- If you intercede on behalf of your family member to stop the victim or witness a crime from testifying
What the Prosecutor Should Prove to Convict You for Dissuading a Witness or a Victim
Before your sentence's decision is made, there are elements that the prosecutor must prove to convict you for dissuading a witness or a victim. The prosecutor must prove that:
- You dissuaded the witness or the victim maliciously and knowingly. It means that you will be convicted if you engage in behavior intended to intimidate or threaten the victim or witness. You will also be convinced if you did the criminal act knowingly.
- You attempted to prevent, or you prevented the witness or victim from:
- Reporting a crime that you or your loved one committed
- Assisting the police in your arrest
- Helping in the prosecution process and
- Testifying against you or attending a trial or a proceeding authorized by the law
It is a wobbler crime to dissuade a witness or a victim. Your criminal acts will, therefore, be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. Actions that will lead to a felony conviction are;
- If your actions are part of a conspiracy
- If you threatened the witness, victim, or any other person involved using force or any other violent activity.
- If you had prior convictions for dissuading a victim or a witness
- If someone has hired you to stop the victim or witness from reporting a crime, testifying, or attend a court proceeding authorized by the law.
Elements Under Dissuading a Victim or a Witness
The elements that will be used to prosecute you are:
- The elements of malice
- The element of Knowing and
- The element of attempting to prevent or Preventing
The Elements of Malice
This is when you act maliciously by using force or any weapon to stop the victim or the witness from testifying against you or reporting a crime that you may have committed. Malicious acts are intended to harm, injure, or annoy another person to make them fear for their lives and, therefore, not even attend a court proceeding that the court authorized.
The Element of Knowing
It is a case where you will know that you committed a crime that is punishable by the law, and you know that there is someone who wants to report you and is willing to testify against you. You will receive harsh punishments if you are found guilty of dissuading a person you well knew that they are victims of your crime or a witness willing to report a crime you have committed and testify for you to be convicted.
The Element of Attempting to Prevent or Preventing
You will not only be charged for successfully dissuading a victim or a witness but also because of attempting to deter them. For example, when you try to bribe them or promise them a particular form of gain if they stop reporting or testifying against you in a court of law. You will receive harsh penalties for the crime, a reason enough to hire a qualified attorney to defend the case on your behalf.
Sentence Enhancement for Personal Use of Firearm
If the police catch you using a firearm to dissuade a victim or a witness is a criminal offense with harsh penalties. There are instances you will find yourself using a gun or dissuade the witness or a victim. A good example is when a victim wants to report a crime that you have committed or reporting your participation in criminal activity. Suppose the police arrest you with your firearm. In that case, you will face imprisonment for ten years in addition to the punishments of felony or misdemeanor conviction that the judge will impose on you for dissuading the victim or the witness. You will also pay the victim or the witness's costs, like the medical bills and legal expenses.
If you used a street gang to intimate the witness or the victim for a particular personal gain, then you will face an additional seven years to life imprisonment in the state prison.
If you used a gun or any other firearm to intimidate the victim or the witness from reporting a crime or testifying against you, you would face additional penalties. Your imprisonment will be added to a maximum of ten years in the state prison. You will also get restrictions for your gun rights, and it will be challenging for you to restore them.
Penalties for Dissuading a Witness or a Victim
Dissuading a victim is a wobbler offense, meaning it can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. If your acts are charged as a misdemeanor, you serve a jail term of up to one year in the county jail. You will also pay a fine not exceeding $1,000.
If charged as a felony, you are imprisoned for up to four years in the state prison. You also pay a fine of up to $10,000.Some of the elements that will make the charges filed against you a felony are:
- you used a particular form of force to dissuade the victim or the witness
- You had prior convictions for the same criminal acts
- You were hired by someone else to prevent the witness or the victim
- Your intimidation of the victim or the witness is part of a grand conspiracy.
Legal Defenses for Dissuading a Witness or a Victim
A qualified attorney understands the criminal law very well and will do a thorough investigation to ensure that you will have your charges reduced or the case filed against you dismissed. The attorney will, therefore, defend your case using the legal defenses that will prove your innocence. The legal defenses include:
The Person You Dissuaded is not a Witness or A victim.
You will be charged if the prosecutor proves that you indeed dissuade a victim. A witness is a person who knows that there is a criminal act that you committed, has given a declaration under oath to testify against you, and one who has reported any illegal activity that you may have engaged in. Your attorney will argue before the court that you were discussing with the victim or the witness on how you were going to stop the witness from testifying against them, and you did not have the knowledge that you were talking to the real victims or witnesses.
You will not be charged if the person you intimidated is not a witness or a victim, meaning your case will most likely be dropped.
You Did Not Intend to Dissuade the Victim or the Witness
For you to be charged for dissuading a victim, the prosecutor must prove that you did so intentionally and knowingly. Your attorney can challenge your case by arguing that you did not realize that the type of conversation you had with the victim or the witness before the trial was meant to dissuade them. The attorney will also argue that you didn't Intent to intimidate the witness or the victim and be proven innocent. If the prosecutor finds no reasonable cause to convict you, your case will be dropped, and charges against you will be reduced.
False Accusations Filed Against You
There are some cases where another person may falsely accuse you of dissuading them if they want a favor or a gain from you. For example, if you have been involved in domestic violence and a restraining order is placed against your partner. Your partner or spouse may dislike that idea and will therefore look for every opportunity to file charges against you for you to lift the restraining order against them. If a thorough investigation is done by your attorney and is proven that you did not commit the crime, then the judge will drop the charges against you, and there will be no penalties that you will face.
You Did Not Act Maliciously
For the prosecutor to convict you from dissuading a victim or a witness, they must prove that you did it knowingly and maliciously. If you dissuade a witness or a victim to protect a family member without any malicious acts, you would have your charges reduced. Your attorney will convince the court that you just interceded in helping you a family member and did not act in any malicious way.
There Is No Sufficient Evidence to Convict You for Dissuading a Witness or a Victim
The prosecutor must prove that you meet all the elements set for you to be convicted for dissuading a witness. If the proof resented by the victim or the witness is not enough to convict you, your case can be dismissed or reduced. That will be made possible by hiring a qualified lawyer from The LA Criminal Defense Law Firm to challenge your behalf.
Three Strikes Law Under the California Law
Under the California Law, your conviction for dissuading a witness or a victim will count as a strike on your criminal record. If you have a second-time conviction, then the strikes will be double the term required by the law. If you are charged for the third time or more, then your strike sentence will be mandatory imprisonment for up to 25 years in the state prison.
Offenses that relate To Dissuading a Witness or a Victim of a Crime
Three criminal offenses relate to dissuading a witness or a victim. They are:
- False imprisonment
- Kidnapping and
- Criminal Threats
- Influencing testimony
- Contempt of court
False imprisonment is a crime that you commit when you violate the liberty of another person. You can violate another person's freedom by confining them in a particular place, detaining them, or restraining them without their consent. False imprisonment is a wobbler and can therefore be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. If you are charged for a misdemeanor offense, you face a jail term of up to one year in the county jail, and you also pay a fine of $1,000. If convicted as a felony, you face a jail term of 16 months, two or three years in jail.
Some of the legal defenses that can make you walk free after your arrest are:
- You did not have the consent that there was anyone falsely imprisoned.
- You did the false imprisonment out of self-defense.
- You had the parental rights to do it and
- You have the authority to detain, confine, or restrain.
Kidnapping as a Related Offense to Dissuading a Witness or a Victim
Kidnapping can be defined as when you move another person to a far distance without their consent using force or a particular form of intimidation. For example, when you point your gun at someone and order them to drive as far as you want them to be.
Kidnapping is a felony offense that is punishable by eight-year imprisonment in the state prison. If charged with aggravated kidnapping, you face imprisonment for five to life imprisonment in the state prison.
However, there are some legal defenses that your attorney can present to challenge the charges against you. They are:
- The victim had the consent that you were moving to a far distance.
- There is no enough evidence to prove you guilty of
- You were falsely accused of kidnapping.
- It was a mistaken identity that you are charged for kidnapping and
- As a parent, you had the right to travel with your child to whatever the place and distance that you wanted.
Criminal Threats as Relates to Dissuading a Witness or Victim
You will be charged for committing a criminal threat when you threaten to cause physical harm to kill another person. You will be charged for criminal threats even if you do not have the ability to do so, and even if you did not commit the crime intentionally. A good example is when you threaten a person just because you are holding a gun.
A criminal threat is considered a wobbler offense that is charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. If your convictions are a misdemeanor, you face a jail term of up to one year in jail. If charged as a felony, you serve imprisonment for four years in the state prison. If your criminal threats involve a weapon, then you face additional one-year imprisonment in the state prison.
Some of the defenses that will be presented to reduce your charges or have your case dropped are:
- The victim wasn't in actual fear.
- You only made a gesture to threaten the victim.
- You committed the crime as a form of self-defense and
- The criminal threat was not specific.
It is a crime for you to bribe a victim or a witness to stop them from testifying against your charges. It may happen that the victim or the witness may have accepted the bribery without any coercion. You will still be charged because you committed the crime of bribery. The offense is charged as a felony, which is punishable by serving a jail term for four years in the county jail and a possibility of paying fines and court fees. Some of the legal defenses that can reduce your charges are:
- You did not bribe the witness or the victim
- The victim or the witness accepted the bribe willingly
- You were falsely accused
Having an attorney to see you through the trial process will help reduce your charges.
Contempt of court
It is a crime under the California law to behave in a way that seems disrespectful to the court proceedings. The elements that will make you get convicted for contempt of court are:
When you refuse to comply with the request of the judge
- When you became too noisy
- When you cause a lot of distractions during the court proceedings
- When you violate the court order.
A criminal threat is a wobbler crime, meaning it can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. If the prosecutor convicts you as a misdemeanor, you will face a jail term of up to one year in jail. You also pay a fine of up to $1,000. If changed as a felony, you pay a fine not exceeding $10,000 and imprisonment for 16months, 2 or 3 years in the state prison.
Stalking as Relates To Dissuading A Victim or Witness
It is a crime under the California law to threaten or harass another person to the extent that they fear their safety or that of their families. Stalking is a wobbler crime that is charged either as a felony or a misdemeanor. If your charges are that of a felony conviction, you pay a fine not exceeding $1000.You serve a jail term of up to one year in the county jail. You are also eligible for counseling to ensure that you change your behavior to the best and, you will be served with a restraining order to protect the victim from any harm that you may want to inflict them
If charged as a felony, you are put on felony probation, and a restraining order is filed against you to keep you away from the victim. The restraining order will also keep you away from causing any more harm to the victim. You will also pay a fine of up to $10,000, and you will again undergo a counseling course for your behavior change. You will face imprisonment for 16 months to five years in the state prison.
Find a Dissuading a Witness Defense Attorney Near Me
Your emotions can run high, especially if your family is involved in a particular criminal act, and you find yourself dissuading a witness or victim on behalf of your family. Preventing a witness or a victim from reporting or testifying is a criminal offense that can change your life or those of your loved ones' lives. The criminal act can lead to jail or imprisonment and payment of fines. The penalties are harsh and can be life-changing.
If you or your loved ones face charges for dissuading a victim or a witness, you should seek legal representation to reduce the charges against you or have your case dismissed. The LA Criminal Defense Law Firm has attorneys who will do their best to make a difference in your case. We have successfully represented many other cases like yours and have had our clients walk free or reduced penalties. Contact us at 310-935-1675 to get the legal representation that you need.