How Tampering with Witnesses or Evidence Can Lead to Serious Charges
If you are being investigated for a federal crime, you may be driven to try to destroy evidence or influence witnesses in your case. However, doing so will only make your situation worse and strengthen the case against you.
Instead of taking matters into your own hands, your attorney should be the one building a strong defense on your behalf and reassuring you with answers to any questions you may have. This is why you should retain an experienced Wallin & Klarich attorney as soon as possible to begin work on your case.
Let’s break down the two of the most common federal tampering crimes:
Tampering with Evidence (United States Code 18 Section 1519)
Recently, institutions such as banks and corporations have been in the news for “cooking the books,” or tampering with evidence. Under U.S. Code 18 Section 1519, it is illegal for a person to knowingly alter, conceal, falsify or destroy any record, document or tangible object with the intent to interfere with an investigation, possible investigation or any other proceeding by the federal government.
Examples of federal tampering crimes include:
- Making false entries in records;
- Doctoring documents to hide illegal activity;
- Avoiding taxes or other required payments; and
- Destroying or altering documents in anticipation of an investigation that may occur in the future.
What is the Punishment for a Federal Evidence Tampering Conviction? (U.S. Code 18 Section 1519)
Under U.S. Code 18 Section 1519, federal evidence tampering can be charged as a felony and is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Witness Intimidation (United States Code 18 Section 1512)
Witness intimidation is a form of obstruction of justice. Under U.S. Code 18 Section 1512, it is illegal to interfere with witness testimony or cooperation in a criminal case. To be charged with witness intimidation, it must be proven that you attempted to alter or prevent witness testimony. The action does not actually have to be completed.
A person charged with witness intimidation can either be the defendant in a case or a person who tries to interfere with a witness’ testimony on behalf of the defendant or the prosecution. The witness can be a victim or an informant.
Examples of witness intimidation include:
- Asking a witness to lie, not testify, testify in a certain way, not report a crime or not cooperate with police;
- Offering a bribe to a witness;
- Threatening a witness with physical violence or property damage;
- Threatening a witness’ family members or loved ones;
- Using or attempting to use physical force to injure or kill a witness; and
- Preventing a witness from attending a court hearing, deposition or any other legal proceeding.1
What is the Punishment for a Federal Witness Intimidation Conviction? (U.S. Code 18 Section 1512)
Depending on the circumstances of your case, federal witness intimidation can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony under U.S. Code 18 Section 1512.
Federal witness intimidation is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. If you used or attempted to use physical force to intimidate a witness, you face a federal prison sentence of up to 40 years.
Call the Federal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich
If you are facing federal tampering charges, it is critical that you speak to an experienced federal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Wallin & Klarich, our federal attorneys have over 40 years of experience successfully defending persons accused of committing federal crimes. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich federal defense attorney available near you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.
1. [Intimidating a Witness, http://www.criminaldefenselawyer.com/intimidatingAwitness.cfm]↩