Witness Tampering in Federal Court
What is Witness Tampering
Witness tampering can take many forms and be seen in many different parts of a criminal trial. It can occur during the investigation phase of the case where the federal government is looking to see whether there is enough evidence to be able to charge someone with a crime. Witness tampering can occur during grand jury proceedings or even during trial. Witness tampering is defined as the act of attempting to alter or prevent people from testifying in criminal or civil proceedings. In federal court, these witnesses and potential witnesses are protected by the United States Code. Section 1512. There are many ways in which someone can tamper with a witness and because of the updates to this section of the United States Code, many more people are covered by the law.
18 U.S.C. §1512 contains a general prohibition against tampering with an informant, witness or victim. It also includes a list of other prohibited conduct. All forms of witness tampering are covered in this section of the United States Code with the exception of witness tampering through bribery. This section of the code also broadened the types of witness and informants that are covered by federal law- it now protects individuals that have information about a violation of parole or probation and individuals who want to provide information to federal judges and probation officers. Section 1512 protects both potential and actual witnesses.
Potential Punishments for Witness Tampering
Being charged with witness tampering is considered a serious offense. It can come with a punishment of up to 20 years if, in the process of tampering, physical force was attempted or was used. If there was no physical force attempted or used and there was only a threat to use it, then there can be a sentence of up to 10 years. These charges can also come with fines that can reach up to $250,000.
Current Concerns with Witness Tampering
Currently, there is concern for the lack of penalties that prosecutors face if and when they commit witness tampering. Prosecutors are granted full immunity from civil punishments for this and other types of prosecutorial misconduct. There are ways that a prosecutor can be punished by the State Bar Association but there have been very rare cases in which prosecutors have faced any repercussions for their actions.
Charged with Witness Tampering?
If you have been charged with witness tampering by the federal government, the first thing to understand is that this is a very serious offense. Understanding this is the first step you can take in order to best protect yourself from the charges and the investigation that comes next. You need a federal criminal defense attorney who will be able to get the evidence against you and devise the best possible defense for you. An attorney who knows the federal court system is someone who will be best positioned to fight for your rights and to protect you.
If you are facing a witness tampering charge in Orange County, it is crucial that you find a skilled criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. With over 20 years of experience representing people charged with serious crimes, attorney Karren Kenney has the knowledge to energetically defend your case. Based in Costa Mesa, the dedicated team at the Kenney Legal Defense Corporation assists individuals throughout Southern California, from San Diego to Los Angeles. Call (855) 505-5588 or contact us online for an initial 30 minute phone consultation at no cost to you.