Intimidation of a Witness
If you or someone you know has been charged with intimidating a witness in the state of Massachusetts, there is some important information you should know. For starters, the criminal statute is very loosely defined, which makes it easy for the prosecution to use the “crime” to seek harsher punishments for defendants. Also, the burden is on the Commonwealth to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed with intent. For that reason, skilled criminal defense attorney Kathleen McCarthy is well-armed to reach a plea bargain, or even dismissal, in many cases.
Boston, Massachusetts intimidation of a witness defense attorney Kathleen McCarthy is here to help you avoid serving time in jail and paying costly penalties and fines. You should act fast in contacting legal counsel. Do not delay.What Actions Are Considered Witness Intimidation?
By statute, there are three parameters that must be satisfied before a person can be charged with witness intimidation. First, the defendant must directly (or indirectly) threaten or attempt to cause emotional, physical, economic or property harm on a person considered a “witness.” However, if it can be proven that the defendant offered a gift, reward, or bribe to the “witness” or harassed the witness in any way, their actions can be construed as intimidation in court. The grey nature of this definition allows police and prosecutors to twist the statute in their favor, time and time again. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap.How Does the Statute Define a Witness?
The second parameter needed to support this charge is the definition of the term “witness.” The person on the receiving end of the defendant’s actions must be a witness or potential witness to a crime, violation of bail, or violation of parole or a police officer, judge, juror, grand juror, prosecutor, federal agent, defense attorney, clerk, court officer, probation officer, parole officer, and the list goes on. As you can see, anyone remotely involved in a court proceeding could be considered a “witness” for the purpose of prosecution. What’s more, any individual who attended or stated the intention to attend a court proceeding could fall under this statute. Therefore, practically no one is excluded from being used as a tool for the prosecution’s war against a defendant in witness intimidation cases.How Does The Prosecution Prove Intent?
The third and final parameter of evidence required is the motive of the defendant. Thanks to the Constitution, it is the burden of the Commonwealth to prove the defendant acted “with the specific intent to impede, instruct, delay, or otherwise interfere with a criminal investigation.” What’s more, the prosecution must prove this beyond a reasonable doubt. While this may sound fair and legally sound, unfortunately, another portion of the statute makes this point almost moot.
If the prosecution can prove the defendant acted “recklessly,” which means he or she acted in a way that a reasonably careful person would not, and their actions were clear to cause interference in a criminal investigation, then specific intent is not necessary to prove. While reckless actions must also be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the second option makes the prosecution’s case much easier to build, as all they have to do is show that the defendant’s behavior was likely to interfere with the proceeding. Again, this statute creates many loopholes that a prosecutor or judge can easily use to seek harsher sentencing for an otherwise innocent defendant.How to Defend Against a Witness Intimidation Charge
If the alleged victim does not know the perpetrator of the alleged crime then a great angle for the defense it to prove that the defendant was misidentified. Skilled attorney Kathleen McCarthy can use the evidence to challenge the prosecution’s assertion that the defendant was the one involved in the intimidation. Attorney Kathleen McCarthy can use her experience and skill to effectively cross-examine a Commonwealth witness who identifies an alleged perpetrator, particularly if the parties are not familiar to one another. If there are any holes in the state of the Commonwealth’s evidence or the narratives, attorney Kathleen McCarthy can easily make those holes obvious to the fact finder. Attorney McCarthy can create reasonable doubt with effective cross-examination and through the presentation of evidence. Also, if any statements were collected unlawfully, such as without the police reading a client his or her of Miranda rights, a motion can be filed to have the statement suppressed and inadmissible at trial. This can be the winning ticket in cases that hinge on a defendant’s statement for a conviction.
As you can see, Massachusetts’ laws surrounding this crime are extremely open-ended It is important to have an experienced and skillful Massachusetts defense attorney on your side if you are charged with this crime. If you or a loved one are facing this charge Contact attorney Kathleen McCarthy today for a consultation. She provides criminal defense representation to residents of Massachusetts including the cities and towns of Lawrence, Lowell, Haverhill, Concord, Ayer and Newburyport.