The Invisible Line to Witness Tampering
Too often in Jefferson and Arapahoe County, we hear of someone trying to help their criminal case or a family member’s case, and they cross that invisible line between talking and Witness or Victim Tampering. The problem is that people should be able to talk to witnesses about their case or another’s case. What is wrong with that? Certainly the police don’t have a corner on proper investigation. In many cases I’ve been involved with, the police intentionally try and influence a person’s testimony. I’ve even seen DHS or Social Services workers tell a woman that if she continues to support her husband in a case involving a child victim, they will take ALL of her kids away. That is certainly Witness Tampering. Read about the definition of Witness Tampering.
Protection Orders and Witness or Victim Discussions
Colorado places a protection or restraining order on the defendant in every criminal case. That order says that you can’t harass, intimidate, or retaliate against any witness or victim in the case. In most Domestic Violence or Assault type cases, you will be ordered to have no contact with the victim (not even from the jail by phone or letter). That also means you can’t ask a third party to have the contact which you are prevented from having. Violation of a protection or restraining order is a separate crime.
The Law in Colorado on Witness Tampering
C.R.S. 18-8-707 provides that persons should not induce another who is a witness or a victim in a criminal case to: make false statements or withhold information. So, the question is, can interested persons even talk to victims or witnesses in Arapahoe County and Aurora? Absolutely they can. However, in many cases this does more harm than good. I think it is good to talk with the accused person’s lawyer first, and see what they think, or what questions the attorney would like you to ask. The second question is how can the criminal case be discussed? I think the best approach is one of acting curious and trying to get information vs. giving information. Never argue with a witness or victim or tell them they are wrong to file charges. Just gather information. It is important to understand why the witness or victim is making their claim. If you can figure that out, you are well on your way to learning how to assist your lawyer fight them in court later.
What Not to Say to a Witness or Victim in an Arvada or Westminster Criminal Case
The law is clear that you should not apply any pressure to a witness or victim. Don’t criticize them or suggest they rethink what they’ve told police. Never ask them to redo their version of what occurred. Just have a logical discussion about what occurred. I would be very careful about suggesting that a witness absent themselves from the subpoena process or to not show up at court. That is dangerous territory and against the law. Violation of laws related to witness and victim tampering in Adams and Douglas County is a felony. It is never worth putting your freedom at stake. And, if you are the accused, you will be viewed as that much more guilty.
Why a Criminal Defense Attorney is Helpful
Since we know the law and what can and cannot be said, it is useful to have an attorney helping plan any meeting of anyone with a witness or victim. In many cases, a professional private investigator can get the information needed in a much safer way. A lawyer can suggest defense information needed from the witness or victim. If you are going to get the most bang for your buck, do it with a lawyer’s assistance. In many cases, you may only get one chance to interview a witness or victim, so make it count.
Always decline the offer to speak with police. They are not your friends and are not after the truth. Forget what you’ve seen on TV. Then, call the best criminal defense lawyers at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.