Dissuading a Witness in Aliso Viejo
In the city of Aliso Viejo and in Orange County, you can be charged with dissuading a witness or victim under California Penal Code 136.1. This law declares that you are guilty if you knowingly and maliciously prevent or dissuade a witness or victim to a crime from doing the following:
- Reporting the crime
- Cooperating with law enforcement leading to a complaint or charge
- Providing or delivering information that can lead to an arrest or
- Testifying or attending a legal proceeding
You can be convicted of the crime whether or not your attempt at dissuading the victim or witness was successful.
An example of dissuading a witness or victim would be offering money to someone in exchange for them not telling the police about their criminal encounter, or making threats that something harmful and dangerous will happen if the other party were to testify against them.Penalties and Sentencing
If you engage in the acts as part of a conspiracy by threatening to use force of by actually using force against the other party, if you have previously been convicted of dissuading a witness, or if you have been hired to do so by someone else, then it will be considered a felony. Depending on the circumstances of the case, you can be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor.
The penalties for the charge will be as follows:
- For a misdemeanor charge, the penalties include up to 1-year imprisonment in a county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Additionally, you will be restricted from possessing or owning a firearm for ten years
- For a felony charge, the penalties include between 16-months to 4-years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Additionally, you will be restricted from possessing or owning a firearm for your lifetime
- It is also possible to aggravate your charges for the felony crime under PC 136.1 if you:
- Use force or threats to dissuade a victim or witness
- If you act in furtherance of a conspiracy
- If you commit the act having been previously convicted of a similar crime in the state of California or a different state
- If you act upon a request in order to gain financially or for any other benefit
- If you have more prior ‘strikes’ under California’s Three Strikes Law
Defenses for dissuading a witness charges in California include having a lack of knowledge. This means that if you are unaware that person is a witness or a victim, then you are not violating the penal code. Another common defense is that there was a lack of malicious intent to try to interfere with the case. Thirdly, false accusations or wrongful arrest are also used as defense. There have been countless instances in which people falsely accuse others of criminal activity that they did not do.
Having a knowledgeable and experienced attorney to defend your case is important if you expect the best outcome. Contact the Johnson Criminal Law Group right away.