Witnesses to a crime and victims are granted special protection under California’s legal code. In fact, California Penal Code Section 136.1: Intimidating a Witness or Victim makes taking certain actions against these individuals a criminal act.
PC 136.1 can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony in California, with convictions leading to severe repercussions. Find out more about the specific definition of a PC 136.1 charge and the penalties for a conviction right here with the Simmrin Law Group.
Defining Intimidating a Witness or Victim in California
The court system in California can prosecute an individual under PC 136.1 if the individuals try to prevent or dissuade a witness to a crime or a victim from:
- Officially Reporting a Criminal Act
- Attending a Judicial Proceeding
- Testifying During a Judicial Proceeding
- Aiding in the Arrest or Prosecution Process
Individuals must intentionally act to intimidate or dissuade a witness to face PC 136.1 charges. There must also be a malicious motivation at play for the court to hand down a conviction on PC 136.1 charges. Generally, PC 136.1 charges are used to protect the criminal justice system, along with charges like:
- Penal Code Section 135: Destroying or Concealing Evidence
- Penal Code Section 137(a): Bribery of a Witness Regarding Testimony
- Penal Code Section 141: Planting or Tampering with Evidence
- Penal Code Section 422: Criminal Threats
Witnesses and Victims of Crimes in California
California uses specific definitions to describe witnesses to a crime and victims of a crime. Someone may be considered a witness if they:
- Report a Crime
- Are Served a Subpoena
- Make a Declaration Under Oath That Can be Considered Evidence
- Have Knowledge About a Crime
Anyone who is the target of a criminal act can be considered a victim in California. For the purposes of PC 136.1, criminal acts include actions that can be penalized by charges at the state or federal level.
Penalties for a PC 136.1 Conviction in California
Intimidating a witness or a victim can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony in California. Misdemeanor charges are generally considered less severe. However, a misdemeanor conviction can still lead to:
- Fines: Up to $1,000
- Jail Time: Up to 1 Year
Individuals may also be banned from owning or acquiring firearms for 10 years after a misdemeanor conviction. The court system can utilize felony charges for intimidating a witness or a victim if the act was connected to a conspiracy. Felony charges may also be used if the individual charged:
- Utilized Violence or the Threat of Violence
- Had a Previous Conviction Under PC 136.1
- Was Employed to Intimidate a Witness or Victim
Felony PC 136.1 convictions can result in:
- Fines: Up to $10,000
- Prison Time: Up to 4 Years
Felony convictions can also lead to a lifetime ban on the ownership of firearms in California.
Defending Against PC 136.1 Charges in California
Building a defense against charges of intimidating a witness or victim can be easier if you reach out to a professional criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles today. Your criminal defense lawyer may be able to protect you by showing that:
You Were Falsely Accused
Sometimes, witnesses make false accusations regarding threats or intimidation. Alleged victims of criminal acts can also make false claims. A criminal defense lawyer can investigate the charges you are facing to show they have no founding in the truth.
You Did Not Intend to Intimidate a Victim or Witness
Individuals must intentionally threaten a victim or witness to face a conviction under PC 1361.1. This means you should not be convicted if you did not realize someone could take what you were saying as a threat or an attempt at intimidation.
You Are Not Facing Strong Evidence
PC 136.1 accusations can come down to your word going against someone else’s. It is up to the prosecution to prove that you intimidated a witness or a victim. If there isn’t evidence to back up the prosecution’s claim, you may be able to beat the charges you are facing.
You can begin working on a defense for PC 136.1 charges today by contacting the Simmrin Law Group.
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer to Handle PC 136.1 Charges Now
A conviction under California Penal Code Section 136.1: Intimidating a Witness or Victim can impact the rest of your life. Make sure you are ready to face a PC 136.1 charge by calling the Simmrin Law Group today. You can speak with our criminal defense lawyers by calling (310) 997-4688, or completing our online contact form.
Get help with a FREE initial case evaluation.