We work hard to protect the integrity of our judicial system. Oklahoma’s judicial system works within the framework of the law which balances individual rights against societal needs when ascertaining the truth in any given case. So when a person works to undermine it, courts and prosecutors tend to treat the matter harshly. Intimidating a witness in Wagoner, Oklahoma undermines the integrity of the legal system and is against the law.
Defining Intimidating a Witness in Wagoner
Witness intimidation can be a problem in several ways. Witnesses who are frightened tend not to report a crime to begin with. Thus, sometimes very serious crimes go unreported.
In addition, intimidating a witness will often ensure that a judge or jury does not hear all the facts of a case, making the truth more elusive than ever. Witnesses worry about retaliation and retribution.
What the Law Says About Intimidating a Witness
In Oklahoma, intimidating a witness is defined as:
- a willful attempt through force, fear, harassment, physical, or mental harm,
- to prevent or alter a person’s testimony or
- the production of other evidence in court or
- an attempt to prevent or alter a report of abuse or neglect to the proper authorities.
The crime includes any person who threatens or causes physical harm through force or fear or harassment of 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. This part of the statute makes retaliation against a witness illegal. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 455
This crime also includes the preventing or attempted prevention of evidence in court such as documents, objects or other evidence.
The crime is a felony in Oklahoma and 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. This can often happen at the scene of a crime. If the crime is gang related, people are particularly fearful of retribution for even reporting the matter.
Witness intimidation can be overt or implicit. Physical threats, both verbal and non-verbal, are overt and explicit.
Implicit intimidation is more subtle. It’s often like the unexpressed, but very real, community-wide fear that gang violence engenders.
Examples of explicit witness intimidation can include:
- coming after a potential witness with a baseball bat,
- threatening to hurt the witness or their family if they testify, or
- slashing the tires of a potential witness.
If you are facing charges of intimidating a witness, there are defenses that may be available to you depending on the facts of your case. The crime is based on a willful act. The intimidation must be intentionally done to discourage the victim from giving testimony or reporting abuse or neglect.
Proving intent can be difficult in many circumstances. If a prosecutor is unable to prove the intent, there is no provable crime.
Explain the facts of your case to your attorney, not to the police. And remember that what seems to you like a trivial fact may make a big difference in your defense.
Free Consultation: Wagoner Criminal Defense Attorney
When you or someone you care about is facing charges for this or any other crime in the Wagoner, Oklahoma area, the criminal defense lawyers at Wirth Law Office – Wagoner are here to provide you a free consultation to discuss your criminal matter.
Call 918-485-0335 to schedule your confidential and no-cost consultation. You may also contact us by email using the form at the top of this page.
Either way you reach out to our team, we’ll get back to you promptly to answer your legal questions.