Witness tampering is a serious criminal offense in Florida that involves intimidating or influencing a witness, victim, or informant to alter their testimony or impede a criminal investigation.
- Alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal an object related to an official investigation or proceeding
- Evade legal process summoning the witness to appear or produce evidence in an official investigation or proceeding
- Cause the witness to be absent from an official proceeding
- Hinder, delay, or prevent the communication of information to law enforcement authorities or judges regarding an offense or violation of probation or parole
- Testify untruthfully in an official investigation or proceeding
It is important to note that the official investigation or proceeding may involve non-criminal offenses, misdemeanors, third-degree felonies, second-degree felonies, first-degree felonies, life felonies, or capital felonies.
Elements of Witness Tampering
To secure a conviction for witness tampering, the prosecution must prove several elements beyond a reasonable doubt. These elements include:
- The accused knowingly used intimidation, physical force, threats, or offered pecuniary benefits.
- The victim was a witness, victim, informant, or possessed information relevant to an official investigation or proceeding.
- The accused intended to induce the witness to alter their testimony, hinder the investigation, or evade legal process.
- The official investigation or proceeding involved a criminal offense or violation of probation, parole, or release.
It is crucial to remember that the state does not have to demonstrate that an official proceeding was imminent or that the testimony or evidence was admissible in court.
Possible Defenses to Witness Tampering Charges
If you are facing witness tampering charges, you need to explore possible defenses to protect your rights and challenge the prosecution’s case. Here are some common defenses used in witness tampering cases:
- Lack of knowledge: The defense may argue that the accused had no knowledge that the individual influenced was a witness or that their actions could be interpreted as tampering.
- Lack of intent: The defense may contend that there was no intention to obstruct justice or tamper with the witness. This defense often arises when the accused’s actions are misunderstood or misinterpreted.
- Absence of direct evidence: If the prosecution lacks direct evidence linking the accused to witness tampering, the defense may argue that the case rests on circumstantial evidence or hearsay.
- False allegations: The defense may claim that the witness falsely accused the accused of tampering due to ulterior motives, such as revenge, personal vendettas, or coercion.
- Constitutional violations: If law enforcement officers obtained evidence through illegal means or violated the accused’s constitutional rights during the investigation, the defense may seek to have that evidence suppressed.
Every case is unique, and the defense strategy should be tailored to the specific circumstances. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial to determine the best course of action.
If you or a loved one has been accused of witness tampering, contact the Orlando criminal defense team at Rivas Law at 407-644-2466 for a free consultation. Their skilled attorneys are ready to provide the aggressive defense you deserve.