Sec 136.1 of the California Penal Code, the following facts need to proven in order to convict an individual of the crime of dissuading a witness or victim:
- The individual knowingly and maliciously;
- Committed acts that prevented or dissuaded or attempted to commit acts that prevent or dissuade;
A victim of a criminal offense or a witness to a crime to perform any of the following acts:
- Attendance or testifying in any judicial proceeding;
- Reporting the crime;
- Aiding in the prosecutorial process; or
- Aiding in the arrest process.
This crime is considered a wobbler and the prosecution may charge the individual with either a misdemeanor or felony offense. Should the individual perform any of the aforementioned acts as part of a conspiracy through the use of force or threat against the person or property of any witness, victim or individual and there was a previous conviction of the same offense, then the crime is considered as a felony. This also applies to individuals who have been hired or engaged to perform any of the above acts.
The success or failure of the dissuading or prevention is of no matter as long as the above acts were committed, then the crime has been committed. The recipients of these criminal actions include witnesses or those individuals that know about the facts of a crime and their declaration under oath is admissible as evidence. Also within the purview of the law are those that report the commission of a crime or those served with a subpoena to testify as to their knowledge as to the commission of the crime.
This crime is differentiated from Sec 137 of the California Penal Code which is the crime of influencing the testimony of a witness. Often, this crime is prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense but if the victim of the crime sustains serious bodily injury, then the crime is elevated as a felony offense.
When convicted of a misdemeanor offense, then the imposable penalty of up to one (1) year in county jail and payment of fines amounting to $1,000. Also included as an accessory penalty is the ten year ban on the right to own or acquire firearms under the California Gun Laws.
When convicted as a felony offense, the imposable penalty would be between sixteen (16) months to four years in state prison and payment of fines up to $10,000. An accessory penalty is the lifetime ban on owning and acquiring firearms. Also included would be the registration of a strike under California’s Three Strikes Law.
The crime of dissuading a witness or victim is a serious offense in California. Should you be or know anyone undergoing this process, do reach out to the lawyers at the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.