It makes sense to want to avoid consequences for inappropriate behavior, particularly when facing the severe punishment that comes from a criminal conviction. However, dissuading or attempting to dissuade a witness or a victim of a crime not to testify, under certain circumstances you can be held criminally liable and prosecuted under California law.
Pursuant to Penal Code Section 136.1, dissuading or attempting to dissuade a witness or a victim may be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony in California. A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. A felony conviction could mean up to four years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich want to share with you a recent decision in the California Court of Appeal which illustrates when and how this crime can occur…
People v. Wahidi (Case No. B245872, Cal. Court of Appeal, December 30, 2013)
On February 28, 2011, Abdullah Wahidi was involved in an altercation with Farahan Khan and three other individuals, during which Wahidi punched one of Khan’s friends and broke the windows of Khan’s car with a baseball bat while at least one of Khan’s friends was inside the vehicle.
On September 25, 2011, the day before his preliminary hearing, Wahidi approached Kahn after prayer services at a local mosque, where he attempted to persuade Kahn to settle the matter informally between their families.
Wahidi stated: “[W]e’re both Muslims. That if we could just settle this outside the court in a more Muslim manner family to family, have our families meet and settle this out of court and not take this to court.” Kahn reported the conversation to the Los Angeles prosecutor in charge of the case the following morning.
In addition to assault and vandalism charges, Wahidi was charged and convicted of attempting to dissuade a witness from testifying, a misdemeanor under Penal Code Section 136.1(a)(1). He was sentenced to two years in prison.
Wahidi appealed, claiming insufficient evidence to support the witness tampering charge. The court disagreed and upheld his conviction, reasoning that Wahidi “knowingly and maliciously” attempted to dissuade Kahn from testifying.
Attempting to Dissuade a Witness Will Not Resolve Matters
Trying to avoid criminal charges by interfering with the judicial process may only lead to more negative consequences for you. Be advised that it is in your best interest to let an experienced criminal defense attorney represent you if you have been charged with a crime rather than trying to resolve matters on your own.
Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich
If you or someone you care about is facing criminal charges in California, you need to contact our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich immediately. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys have a proven track record of successfully defending our clients for over 30 years. When you retain our law firm, we can explore all legal options available to you. We can have an investigator interview the alleged victim and we may discover that the alleged victim is not interested in pursuing the matter. We can then take the appropriate legal steps in some cases to attempt to resolve the matter by way of a civil compromise (See Penal Code Section 1377).
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our attorneys are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to make certain you receive unparalleled legal representation. Don’t take it upon yourself to try to get a witness or a victim not to testify against you. This can only make matters worse for you.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.