Interfering with a witness’s testimony or cooperation in a criminal case is a criminal act that can be misdemeanor or a felony.
Intimidating or tampering with a witness involves trying to get a witness to lie, say certain things under oath, alter or destroy evidence, or not testify or cooperate with authorities at all.
Under the first type of statute, simply asking a witness to testify in your favor constitutes witness tampering.
The other statutes require that the person accused actually threatened or intimidated the witness.
Coercion and intimidation can involve threats other than physical violence or property damage.
An employer could threaten an employee’s job or promise a promotion if the employee will testify in a certain way or refuse to testify.
If the defendant is involved in witness tampering committed by another person, he also can be charged with a crime.
For instance, if the defendant pays someone to contact a witness or is involved in planning a threat or attack on a witness, he could be charged with witness intimidation or conspiracy to commit the crime.
In criminal cases, defendants often are ordered not to have contact with any witnesses while the case is pending.
A witness also could be threatened with harm to his business or reputation.
The idea of witness tampering or intimidation probably brings to mind a defendant in a criminal case threatening a witness, but the defendant is not the only person who can be accused of or commit this crime.