Washington criminal law says you commit a crime if you intimidate or threaten a witness to a legal proceeding. The offense is a serious felony (as opposed to a misdemeanor) that can land you in state prison for up to 10 years. Please contact a skilled criminal defense attorney now if you or a loved one is facing an intimidation charge.
How Does Washington Law Define “Intimidating a Witness”?
RCW 9A.72.110 is the Washington statute that defines the crime of intimidating a witness. Per this law, you are guilty of a crime if you threaten a current or prospective witness in an attempt to either:
- Influence that person’s testimony,
- Induce that person to elude any summons requesting him or her to testify,
- Induce that person to elude himself or herself from a legal proceeding, or
- Induce that person not to report information in a criminal investigation.
You can also commit this offense if you threaten a former witness because of that person’s role in a legal proceeding.
For purposes of this crime, “threaten” means to communicate, directly or indirectly, an intent to use force against a person.
What Are the Penalties?
Intimidating a witness is a class B felony under Washington Law. A class B felony is punishable by:
- Custody in state prison for up to 10 years, and/or
- A maximum fine of $10,000.
Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?
Yes. You have the right to challenge a charge under RCW 9A.72.110 with a legal defense. A common defense is for you to show that you did not “threaten” a witness. Recall that you are only guilty of intimidating a witness if you communicated an intent to use force against that person. If there is no such intent, then you can likely challenge an intimidation charge.
Further, you are only guilty of this offense if you threatened a “witness.” This means you can also contest a charge by showing that you did not reasonably believe that the person you threatened was in fact a witness in a legal proceeding. Note, though, that you could still face some type of assault or battery charge because of the threatening.
Contact Black & Askerov for Help
While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge an intimidating a witness charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced Seattle criminal defense lawyers at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on intimidation charges. Our attorneys will fight tooth and nail for you at every step of your case. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!