Getting acquitted in a criminal case is about more than just whether or not you committed the crime that the prosecution claims that you committed. Likewise, the plea deal you can get if you plead guilty does not simply come down to how generous the prosecutors are and how well-connected your criminal defense lawyer is. Your actions during the investigation and while the case is pending can make a big difference, too.
In general, you should exercise your right to remain silent and not speak freely about your case to anyone except your criminal defense lawyer, who can advise you about developments in your case and which arguments to present at trial. You should not destroy evidence or try to influence the testimony of potential witnesses.
If you were arrested for a crime in Texas, a Dallas criminal defense lawyer can provide you effective legal counsel and guidance specifically on mistakes to avoid that could lead to criminal charges for witness tampering.
What Is Witness Tampering?
Witness tampering in Texas is when a defendant in a criminal case or a person who is the subject of a criminal investigation tries to stop other people from providing evidence to the police that could help prosecutors’ case against the defendant. In the context of witness tampering laws, a witness is anyone that you reasonably believe has knowledge of your alleged crime; you can still be charged with witness tampering even if the recipient of your influential actions has not yet received a subpoena to appear in court. The following actions could all count as witness tampering:
● Offering bribes to a witness in exchange for his or her silence
● Threatening physical violence against the witness
● Instructing someone else to threaten or physically attack the witness
● Threatening to reveal damaging information about the witness to his or her family or employer or threatening to spread malicious false rumors about the witness
● Telling a witness verbally or in writing what to say to law enforcement or in court
Penalties for Witness Tampering in State and Federal Cases
If witness tampering occurs in the context of a case being prosecuted or investigated in Texas criminal court, witness tampering is a felony, and the maximum possible sentence is two to ten years in state prison. In federal cases, the maximum penalty for a witness tampering conviction is a prison sentence of up to 30 years.
How Is Witness Tampering Different From Obstruction of Justice?
Witness intimidation and other efforts to tamper with witnesses are not the only way you can get into trouble for your actions during the pendency of your case. You can get additional criminal charges for fleeing from justice or destroying evidence. If you are facing charges for financial crimes or Internet sex crimes, deleting potentially incriminating files from your computer or images or messages from your phone could make things worse.
Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC, About Criminal Investigations
You should hire a Dallas, TX, criminal defense lawyer if you are being accused of attempting to bribe or intimidate a witness in a pending criminal case or a person relevant to a criminal investigation. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC, in Dallas, Texas, to discuss your case.