Tampering With a Witness: The Differing Degrees of the Crime
It is unlawful for anyone to tamper with a witness in New York. Prosecutors in New York do not take this crime lightly. If found guilty of witness tampering, you could end up serving a jail term of up to 1 year or one of up to 25 years. The amount of time a guilty person risks spending in jail depends on the degree of crime in question.
Whether you stand accused of a misdemeanor crime or a felony crime, you must work with a qualified criminal defense attorney. Make no mistake. Just because you are charged with a misdemeanor crime doesn’t mean you should take the criminal charge lightly. It takes very little for a misdemeanor charge to escalate to a felony charge. One piece of damning evidence can raise your criminal charge from one degree to another.
The crime of witness tampering is divided into four degrees. The lowest charge is a fourth-degree criminal charge, whereas the highest charge is a criminal charge in the first degree.
Witness Tampering in the Fourth Degree
According to New York Penal Law, you are guilty of tampering with a witness in the fourth degree when you try to convince or manage to convince a witness not to appear or testify at a proceeding. You are also guilty of this fourth-degree crime if you intentionally make an untrue statement or perform a fraudulent act to affect a witness’s testimony.
New York considers this crime a class A misdemeanor. If found guilty of this fourth-degree crime, you could spend up to one year in jail.
Witness Tampering in the Third Degree
For you to be found guilty of a third-degree crime in the case of witness tampering, the prosecution must prove that you tried to or managed to convince a witness not to appear or testify in a proceeding by threatening to cause them or another person physical injury. You can also be found guilty of this crime if you try to or manage to convince a witness to swear falsely by threatening to cause harm to them or another person. Such threats usually cause fear.
Such a crime is a class E felony and is punishable by a jail sentence of up to four years.
Witness Tampering in the Second Degree
You are guilty of tampering with a witness in the second degree if you intentionally physically injure a witness because they testified. You are also guilty of such a crime if you intentionally cause physical injury to another person because of another person’s testimony. Additionally, intentionally causing a physical injury to a witness or another person in order to prevent, delay, or obstruct a witness from testifying or for purposes of making a witness provide a false testimony is a second-degree crime.
Witness tampering in the second degree is a class D felony and is punishable by a jail term of up to seven years.
Witness Tampering in the First Degree
A person is guilty of a first-degree crime if they act in the same way as someone who commits a second-degree crime. However, for you to be convicted of a first-degree crime, the prosecution must prove that you caused serious physical injury.
Such a crime is a class B felony and is punishable by a jail term of up to 25 years.
Contact an NYC Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you stand accused of witness tampering, you must work with a qualified attorney to increase your chances of protecting your rights. Contact skilled NYC criminal defense attorney Mark I. Cohen today to receive legal help.