The judicial system depends on a delicate balance between individual rights and societal needs in an effort to ascertain the truth. Intimidating a witness is one way to tip the balance, but it is also against the law. Intimidating a witness in Oklahoma strikes at the heart of the legal system. Thus, Stillwater — like many jurisdictions — has enacted laws to protect the integrity of the judicial process.
What Constitutes Intimidating A Witness In Oklahoma?
Intimidating a witness in Oklahoma is defined as:
- a willful attempt
- through force, fear, harassment, physical or mental harm
- to prevent or alter a person’s testimony;
- the production of other evidence in court; or
- an attempt to prevent or alter their report of abuse or neglect to the proper authorities.
The statute also discusses any person who threatens or causes physical harm through force, fear, or harassment to any other person who has given testimony in any civil or criminal trial or proceeding or who has made a report of abuse or neglect. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 455
This crime also includes the prevention or the attempt to prevent the production of documents, objects or other evidence in court.
Intimidating a witness is a felony in Stillwater. It is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
What Does Witness Intimidation Look Like?
The statute also makes it illegal to use force or fear to prevent witness testimony. Just threatening to use physical force or to harm a witness is against the law.
Witness intimidation can be overt or subtle. Physical threats, both verbal and non-verbal, are overt. Mental or emotional intimidation, while subtle, is also against the law.
Tearing up a piece of clothing belonging to the victim and leaving it on their porch is more subtle than a punch in the face, but just as illegal. In this day of social media, intimidating a witness can occur in the form of harassing a potential witness online by calling them nasty names.
It is the fear of impending violence that will cause a witness to change their testimony, cause them to avoid a court order or subpoena to appear, or recant testimony already given.
There are defenses that may be available to you. Witness intimidation is based on a willful act. The intimidation must be made with the intent to discourage the victim from giving testimony or reporting abuse or neglect. If a prosecutor is unable to prove the intent, there is no provable crime.
If at all possible, it is best to avoid all contact with witnesses during any court proceeding. Keep any necessary contact minimal and above board.
If you are facing charges of witness intimidation, it is imperative that you hire an experienced Stillwater attorney as soon as possible. Explain the facts of your case to your attorney, not to the police.
Free Consultation With A Stillwater OK Attorney
Wirth Law Office – Stillwater is here to help you when you need it the most.
We offer a free consultation with an experienced Stillwater OK attorney to help you defend your legal rights. Don’t try to handle your legal matter by yourself.
Call 405-673-1600 for a free consultation or submit a question through this website.