Intimidating, Threatening, or Interfering with Witnesses
Criminal defense lawyers with vast experience and a track record of success defending clients charged with intimidating, threatening, or interfering with witnesses.
Intimidating, Threatening, and Interfering with Witnesses Defense Attorneys in Michigan
Michigan law provides strict penalties for anyone accused of intimidating, threatening, or interfering with a person’s testimony in any official proceeding as a witness. Anyone accused of interfering in a criminal or civil case may face harsh consequences and needs help immediately.
What are witness intimidation, threatening, and interfering? A person would be guilty of intimidation, threats, or interference with a witness if they give, offer to give or promise anything of value to encourage or discourage the witness from attending or testifying in a court hearing, testifying in a particular way, or avoiding legal process. Also, a person shall not do any of these things by threat or intimidation.
Penalties for Witness Intimidation and Interference
Michigan law severely punishes someone convicted of intimidating, threatening, or interfering with a witness. A first offense of threatening or intimidating a witness carries a maximum 4-year prison term, five years of court-supervised probation, and a $5,000.00 fine.
If intimidation or interference allegedly occurs in a serious criminal case, one punishable by more than 10 years, the person may be guilty of a 10-year felony, with a fine of up to $20,000.00 and up to 5 years of probation. Suppose the violation involves threatening to kill or injure any person or cause property damage. In that case, the person is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 15 years, a fine of $25,000.00, and 5 years of probation.
Retaliation Against a Witness is a Serious Felony
In addition to threatening, intimidating, or interfering with a witness to keep them from testifying, the law also punishes after-the-fact actions, meaning retaliation. Retaliation means harming someone for testifying. Prosecutors and judges consider retaliation as serious as trying to prevent or influence testimony. Anyone who commits a revenge crime against a witness is guilty of a felony punishable by 10 years in prison.
Witness intimidation is so serious that if a defendant is found guilty of trying to interfere with a witness in his case, the defendant’s sentence for the interference offense may be consecutive to any other penalty imposed. Consecutive means one sentence doesn’t start until the defendant completes another sentence.
False Claims of Threatening or Interfering with a Witnesses
It would be easy for someone to claim that someone threatened them to stay away from court or refuse to testify truthfully. For example, a domestic violence victim may lie about the defendant trying to scare or intimidate her so that she does not testify. Intimidating, threatening, or interfering with a witness is a serious allegation and subjects the defendant to a possible felony charge. For example, if there is a pending divorce, a felony charge could be the leverage the victim needs to steal away custody of children. A charge for threatening and interfering with a person’s spouse would be powerful leverage that the divorcing spouse could use to manipulate the court into a more favorable settlement or custody arrangement.
Because it is easy for a witness to allege a threat falsely, the risk of a wrongful Threatening or Interfering with a Witnesses charge based on false evidence is high. Judges treat Defendants charged with witness intimidation as the court’s enemy. Most lawyers may be too intimidated to mount a strong defense. Everyone assumes the defendant is guilty. The attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. will not be intimidated, and they have an unparalleled track record of success defending clients charged with serious felony offenses. We are not afraid to win!
Defenses to Witness Intimidation Charges
With a talented and experienced lawyer, there are many potential viable defenses. An accused person needs a top-notch defense lawyer when facing an accusation of intimidating, threatening, or interfering with a witness. A fearless retained attorney will attack the case and do everything possible to dismantle a false claim of witness intimidation. A top-rated retained attorney will not feel guilty for attacking the client’s accuser and will do everything they can to get the charges dismissed and have the case thrown out of court. Whether true or not, a defense attorney must fiercely and fearlessly defend against allegations of threatening and interfering with a witness.
An astute defense attorney is always on the lookout for a motive that a complainant may have to harm the client by making false allegations. Possible reasons for false allegations may include money, strategic leverage in a legal case, and personal hatred. A savvy defense attorney’s job is to find such motives and ensure the judge, prosecutor, and jury know of the improper motives. A truly dedicated retained attorney will fight to defend their client when a lesser attorney may attempt to pressure them “o “cop a p “ea” and quickly close out a case. A great defense attorney will relentlessly pressure the prosecutor to see that the case is unjust and they should dismiss the charges.
Michigan law states that defendants are innocent unless the prosecutor can prove their actions were illegal and intended to discourage truthful testimony. It takes a savvy, reputable, and respected lawyer to persuade a prosecutor that their client was seeking truthful testimony if the client allegedly threatened, interfered, or intimidated a witness.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the sentence for intimidating a witness?
A person who commits witness intimidation is guilty of a felony punishable as follows:
For a first offense of Witness Intimidation, a person is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for 4 years or a fine of not more than $5,000.00, or both.
If the witness intimidation occurs in a criminal case for which the maximum term of imprisonment for the violation is more than 10 years, or the offense is punishable by imprisonment for life or any term of years, the person is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $20,000.00, or both.
If the witness intimidation involves committing or attempting to commit a crime or a threat to kill or injure any person or to cause property damage, the person is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 15 years or a fine of not more than $25,000.00, or both.
A person who retaliates, attempts to retaliate, or threatens to retaliate against a witness is guilty of a 10-year felony with a $20,000.00 fine.
What does intimidation of a witness mean?
Intimidating or tampering with a witness is attempting to persuade a witness to lie, say specific things under oath, delete or change evidence, or refuse to testify or cooperate with authorities.
What does retaliate mean?
Retaliate means (a) committing or attempting to commit a crime against any person or (b) threatening to kill or injure any person or cause property damage.
Is witness intimidation a crime in Michigan?
Witness Intimidation is a serious felony crime in Michigan and is punishable by years in prison.
What is an example of witness tampering?
Examples of witness intimidation include:
- A defendant mails her accuser an article about witnesses who mysteriously died after making a police report.
- A store robber tells the cashier, “I know where you live” if the police find out,
- A rapist threatens to post naked pictures of his victim on the internet if she testifies.
Is witness tampering serious?
The government considers witness intimidation a serious crime because it threatens the administration of justice. Judges and prosecutors aim to curb witness intimidation by imposing harsh sentences for those convicted of this offense.
Is it illegal to threaten someone in Michigan?
Various misdemeanor and felony statutes criminalize threatening or interfering with witnesses in Michigan. The nature and specificity of the threat, the circumstances of the threat, and the purpose determine the severity of the offense. Threats to intimidate witnesses are illegal and punishable by years of imprisonment.
Is intimidation a felony in Michigan?
If the intimidation is of a witness and to influence or discourage testimony or retaliate against a witness for testifying, it is a felony.
Premier Defense Attorneys for Witness Intimidation, Threatening, and Interfering
The highly experienced and skilled attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. will leave no stone unturned in defense of our clients. Even if the odds seem completely stacked against you, we will find a way to help you with fair and affordable legal fees. If you find yourself charged with intimidating, threatening, or interfering with a witness, call the firm that will have your back and never give up fighting for you.
The Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has successfully represented thousands of clients on felony and misdemeanor charges, including Witness Intimidation and Interference in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Livingston Counties and throughout Michigan. We have a well-deserved reputation for providing the highest caliber defense and aggressive representation while showing care and personal attention to each client.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.