If you are charged with a criminal offense in the state of California the state has the burden of proving your guilt. Often, the state will rely on witnesses to meet their burden of proof. An individual who attempts to tamper with a witness can be charged with an additional criminal offense that may come with an additional term of incarceration if convicted of tampering with a witness. In order to ensure that you do not inadvertently tamper with the witness it is crucial to understand exactly what is meant by “tampering with a witness in San Diego”.
Most likely, when you think of “tampering with a witness” you think of federal mafia trials where key witnesses were killed before they could testify. Killing a witness certainly does qualify as tampering; however, you do not have to do something this extreme to be accused of tampering with a witness in San Diego.
California Penal Code Section 136.1 is where the California statute that deals with witness tampering can be found. In short, the statute divides witness tampering into two different categories-preventing a witness from testifying and preventing it witness from reporting a crime. It is important to note that attempting to dissuade or intimidate a witness qualifies as witness tampering. In other words, it does not matter if you are actually successful at preventing a witness from testifying or reporting a crime, attempting to do either qualifies as tampering with a witness.
While there are very clear-cut cases when a defendant tampers with a witness, such as an overt threat of violence if the witness testifies, many witness tampering cases are not quite so clear-cut. In fact, it is entirely possible to be accused of witness tampering without realizing that you are even tampering with the witness. For example, imagine that you are charged with domestic violence and the alleged victim is your spouse. Chances are that a no contact order was issued when you are released from jail. The no contact order means that you are not to have any contact, direct or otherwise, with the alleged victim while the case is pending. You, however, may think it is perfectly acceptable to try and contact your spouse and apologize, explain yourself, or patch things up. In the course of that conversation you might plead with your spouse not to testify against you if your case goes to trial. While this may seem like just another conversation between a married couple, it could also be construed as an attempt to dissuade a witness for the state. This is one reason why no contact orders are issued-to prevent any attempts by the defendant to influence, intimidate, or dissuade a witness. This is also a perfect example of why it is crucial that you abide by the terms of a no contact order if one was issued in your case.