If you’re being investigated, accused, or even charged with a criminal offense, then you have to be careful not to interfere with any stage of the legal process. This prohibition on conduct includes interfering with witnesses, victims, and informants.
Tampering with or harassing a witness, victim, or informant is a serious criminal offense in the state of Florida. Penalties may be quite substantial, and – depending on the severity of the underlying offense – may involve decades of imprisonment and thousands in fines.
Let’s examine the basics.
What Qualifies as Tampering?
The offense of “tampering with or harassing a witness, victim, or informant” is defined in Section 914.22 of the Florida Statutes. The statute establishes that a person is guilty of the offense if they knowingly…
- Use intimidation or physical force,
- Threaten or attempt to threaten another person,
- Engage in misleading conduct toward another person, or
- Offer financial benefit or gain to another person
…with the intention to cause or induce that person to:
- Withhold testimony, or withhold a record, document, or other object from an official investigation or proceeding;
- Alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal an object with the intent to impair the integrity/availability of the object for use in an official investigation or proceeding;
- Evade legal process summoning that person to appear as a witness, or to produce a record, document, or other object in an official investigation or an official proceeding;
- Be absent from an official proceeding to which such person has been summoned by legal process;
- Hinder, delay, or prevent the communication to a law enforcement officer or judge of information relating to the commission or possible commission of an offense or a violation of a condition of probation, parole, or release pending a judicial proceeding; or
- Testify untruthfully in an official investigation or proceeding.
For example, if you have been charged with murder, and you pay an eyewitness a sum of money to give false testimony at trial, then you could also be charged with “tampering with or harassing a witness, victim, or informant.”
Penalties for tampering with or harassing a witness, victim, or informant vary depending on the grading of the underlying offense. If the underlying offense is a misdemeanor, for example, then tampering will be prosecuted as a third-degree felony offense. The range of penalties is quite drastic – a tampering charge may be prosecuted as a third-degree felony, second-degree felony, first-degree felony, and life felony.
Contact Our Team of Experienced Sarasota Criminal Defense Attorneys for Assistance
Fowler Law Group is a boutique Florida criminal defense firm with a commitment to providing aggressive, client-oriented legal representation.
We believe that effective criminal defense is dependent on tailored representation – we therefore form communicative, collaborative partnerships with clients from the very beginning of the litigation process to ensure that we have the information necessary to act decisively on their behalf. This approach has paid substantial dividends over the years. Since our founding, we have tried more than 50 criminal jury trials and have helped our clients obtain favorable results in a number of proceedings.