Washington law says you commit a crime if you bribe a witness. The offense is a serious felony that could lead to a decade in state prison. Please contact a skilled criminal defense attorney now if you or a loved one is facing any type of bribery charge.
What is “Bribing a Witness” Under Washington Law?
RCW 9A.72.090 is the Washington statute that sets forth the offense of bribing a witness. Per this law, you are guilty of a crime if you offer or agree to bestow any benefit on either:
- A witness or a person that you believe is about to be called as a witness in an official proceeding, or
- A person whom you have reason to believe may have information relevant to a criminal investigation.
But note that you are only guilty of bribing a witness if you act with a specific intent. Namely, you only commit the offense if you act with the intent to:
- Influence the testimony of a person,
- Persuade the person to avoid testifying as a witness,
- Persuade the person to absent him or herself from an official legal proceeding, or
- Persuade the person to refrain from giving information relevant to a criminal investigation.
What Are the Penalties?
Bribing 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 bribery charge with a legal defense. Recall that you are only guilty of this crime if you act with a specific intent as specified under RCW 9A.72.090. A common defense then is to show that you did not act with such a purpose. For example, you could show that while you tried to provide a witness with a gift, you did not do so with the aim of influencing that person’s testimony.
Another common defense is for your criminal defense attorney to show that you were entrapped. Entrapment is a defense often raised if you were charged as part of an undercover sting operation. The defense says that you only committed a crime because a police officer lured you into doing so. It is an acceptable defense provided that you can show that you only bribed a witness because of the entrapment.
Contact Black & Askerov for Help
While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a bribery charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced criminal defense lawyers at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on bribery 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!