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Tampering with a Witness Lawyers in Orlando, FL

Attorney: Tampering with a Witness in Orlando, Florida

WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF TAMPERING WITH A WITNESS IN FLORIDA?

Under Sec. 914.22, Florida Statutes, the elements of Tampering with a Witness in Florida are:

  • A person used or attempted to use intimidate, threats, or force against another person, engaged in misleading conduct toward another person, or offered a pecuniary (monetary) benefit to another person; AND
  • The person did so with the intent to cause or induce any person to do any of the following:
    • Withhold testimony or any other evidence from an official investigation or proceeding;
    • Alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal an object with the intent to impede its use in an official investigation or proceeding;
    • Evade a subpoena to appear as a witness or produce evidence for an official investigation or proceeding;
    • Be absent from an official proceeding for which the person was subpoenaed;
    • Hinder, delay, or prevent the communication of information about a crime or violation of probation, parole, or release to a law enforcement officer or judge; or
    • Testify untruthfully in an official investigation or proceeding.

WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR TAMPERING WITH A WITNESS IN FLORIDA?

The penalties for Tampering with a Witness depend on whether the investigation or proceeding being obstructed was criminal or noncriminal and, if criminal, the degree of the charged crime. Moreover, Tampering with a Witness is usually punished more severely than the underlying offense.

Investigation/Proceeding Type Degree of Felony Penalty Minimum Mandatory Sentence
Noncriminal or Indeterminate Investigation or Proceeding Third-degree felony Up to 5 years of prison or probation, and a $5,000 fine No minimum mandatory sentence
Misdemeanor Investigation or Proceeding Third-degree felony Up to 5 years of prison or probation, and a $5,000 fine No minimum mandatory sentence
Third-degree Felony Investigation or Proceeding Second-degree felony Up to 15 years of prison or probation, and a $10,000 fine No minimum mandatory sentence
Second-degree Felony Investigation or Proceeding First-degree felony Up to 30 years of prison or probation, and a $10,000 fine Minimum permissible sentence of 21 months in prison
First-degree Felony Investigation or Proceeding First-degree felony Up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine Minimum permissible sentence of 48 months in prison
Life or Capital Felony Investigation or Proceeding Life felony Imprisonment for life and a $15,000 fine Minimum permissible sentence of 66 months (5.5 years) in prison

HOW CAN I FIGHT A CHARGE OF TAMPERING WITH A WITNESS IN FLORIDA?

Unofficial Investigation or Proceeding:

Tampering with a Witness is a crime when the witness is involved in an official investigation or proceeding, such as a police investigation or a court proceeding. But the law is not violated when the witness is part of an unofficial investigation or proceeding. For example, one court found that an investigation by high-school staff is not considered an official investigation, and therefore the defendant could not be convicted of Tampering with a Witness.

Encouraging Truthful Testimony:

The State is required to prove not that you simply intended to influence a witness in some way, but that you were seeking to induce the witness to do any of the acts spelled out in the law (such as withholding testimony or testifying untruthfully). Encouraging or influencing a witness to testify truthfully is not prohibited by the act and thus does not constitute Tampering with a Witness.

Other Potential Defenses:

Motion to Suppress: A Motion to Suppress is a legal request to exclude certain evidence from being presented in court, usually due to violations of constitutional rights during the collection of the evidence. If successful, this could weaken the prosecution’s case significantly.

Alibi Defense: An alibi defense involves providing evidence that you were not at the location of the alleged crime when it occurred. This can be established through witnesses, documents, or surveillance footage that proves your presence elsewhere.

Insufficient Evidence: You can challenge the prosecution’s case by arguing that there is insufficient evidence to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Your attorney can challenge the credibility of witnesses or the reliability of evidence presented.

Coercion or Duress: If you were forced or coerced into tampering with a witness under threats of harm or violence, your attorney can argue that you acted under duress, making it an involuntary act.

Lack of Intent: The prosecution must prove that you had the specific intent to tamper with a witness. Your attorney can challenge this element by presenting evidence that you had no such intention.

Procedural Errors: Your attorney can review the procedures followed during the investigation and the trial to identify any errors or misconduct that could lead to the dismissal of the charges.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I be charged with Tampering with a Witness for merely encouraging someone to testify?

No, the act of encouraging truthful testimony is not considered Tampering with a Witness. The state must prove that you intended to induce specific acts outlined in the law to charge you with witness tampering.

2. Is Tampering with a Witness always considered a felony offense in Florida?

No, the severity of the charge depends on the type of investigation or proceeding involved and the degree of the felony. It can range from a third-degree felony to a life felony.

3. What if I was coerced into tampering with a witness against my will?

If you can prove that you acted under duress or coercion, it may be a valid defense. Your attorney can help you present evidence of the coercion to challenge the charges.

4. Can the penalties for Tampering with a Witness be enhanced in certain circumstances?

Yes, if there are aggravating factors, such as prior criminal convictions, the penalties may be enhanced. It’s crucial to consult an experienced attorney to understand the potential consequences fully.

5. How soon should I contact a criminal defense attorney after being charged with Tampering with a Witness?

Time is of the essence in criminal cases. It’s essential to contact an attorney as soon as possible to begin building a strong defense and protecting your rights.

Facing Witness Tampering Charges in Central Florida?

Have you been arrested and charged with Witness Tampering in Central Florida? If so, swift action is imperative to protect your rights and build a solid defense strategy. Leppard Law: Florida DUI Lawyers & Criminal Defense Attorneys PLLC is renowned for its robust defense representation, underpinned by years of experience and a deep understanding of prosecutorial strategies.

At Leppard Law, we specialize in identifying and exploiting the vulnerabilities in the prosecution’s case. With our keen legal insight, we provide a thorough, honest evaluation of your case, ensuring you fully understand your situation and options.

Don’t face these serious charges alone. Connect with us today at 407-476-4111 for a free consultation. Leppard Law is committed to offering you the best defense possible. Every step of the way, we’re on your side, fighting for your rights.

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