Witnesses are expected to present truthful testimony in the court system in California. In fact, witnesses are required to swear that they will speak nothing but the truth when they are on the stand. Witnesses who break this regulation and lie can face perjury charges.
This legal guideline does not always stop individuals from trying to get witnesses to change their testimony or to simply avoid testifying altogether. The use of financial incentives to impact witnesses can be charged under California Penal Code Section 137 & 138: Bribery of or by Witnesses.
You can dig deeper into the specific actions prohibited by PC 137 and PC 138 right here. Focus on the penalties that can be handed down for a PC 137 or 138 conviction and some legal defenses with the Simmrin Law Group.
Focusing on PC 137: Bribery of Witnesses
The court system in California uses PC 137(a) to prosecute the bribery of witnesses regarding testimony. In order to be convicted under PC 137(a), an individual must promise something of value to a witness in order to shift the testimony of the witness.
Note that individuals can also face charges if they threaten or intimidate a witness in California under California Penal Code Section 136.1: Intimidating A Witness Or Victim.
Go Over PC 138: Bribery of and by Witnesses
PC 138 charges are actually broken down into more specific subsections in California. An individual could be charged with:
- PC 138(a): Bribery of Witnesses Regarding Trial Attendance
- PC 138(b): Bribery by Witnesses Regarding Testimony and Trial Attendance
PC 138(a) also penalizes individuals who are accused of trying to bribe a witness. In this case, the charges are used if someone tries to get a witness to simply stop them from attending a trial at a certain point.
PC 138(b) can be used to prosecute witnesses who try to accept or solicit bribes to change the testimony they would offer in court.
Other Bribery Charges in California
Bribery of or by witnesses is only one example of criminal bribery in California. The court system in the state can also prosecute individuals under:
- California Penal Code Section 67 & 68: Bribery Of Or By An Executive Officer Or Public Employee
- California Penal Code Section 85 & 86: Bribery Of Or By Legislators
- California Penal Code Section 92 & 93: Bribery Of Judges And Jurors
Individuals can face prosecution for attempted bribery tied to any criminal act. These criminal charges can apply if an individual is trying to use bribery to avoid charges for anything from trespassing to murder in California.
Penalties for a PC 137 or 138 Conviction
In general, bribery of or by a witness can be treated as a felony in the state of California. A conviction can lead to high fines as well as a prison sentence of up to four years.
Note that these penalties could increase if an individual threatens a witness, instead of merely offering them a bribe. A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can provide professional legal advice if you are facing any bribery accusations in California.
Defenses for Bribery of or by Witnesses Charges
Bribery of or by a witness accusation does not have to automatically lead to a conviction. In fact, a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles may be able to build a defense if you are facing these charges. Your lawyer may be able to show:
- You Did Not Intend to Bribe Anyone
- You Were Coerced into Offering a Bribe
- You Faced Entrapment by Police Officers
Police officers are legally allowed to try weed out corruption by offering fake bribes to see if a witness will accept them. However, they are not allowed to intensely pressure a witness to accept by becoming aggressive.
Witnesses who felt they had no choice but to accept a bribe may be able to build a defense against a PC 138 charge in the state of California. You will have the best chance of building a strong defense against PC 137 and 138 charges if you contact a professional legal team right away.
Speak with Professionals at PC 137 and 138 Charges Today
You do not have to try to beat California Penal Code Section 137 & 138: Bribery Of Or By Witnesses charges alone. Get legal advice right now by speaking with the Simmrin Law Group’s criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles. We are ready to offer you a FREE case evaluation today.
Take control of your future by filling out our online contact form, or by calling (310) 896-2723.