I remember a recent criminal case where a police detective was sharing her personal opinion on the truthfulness of an alleged child victim, just prior to trial. When the mother of the child expressed reservations on the truthfulness of the child, the police detective stepped in strong to save her case. She assured the mother that she felt the child was telling the truth and that our client had committed the offense. Over my 25 years as a criminal defense lawyer, I have seen police and detectives tell the witness what to say and what not to say in a police report. In some cases, the officers are not getting what they want from a witness, so they hand-write questions to the witness and make the witness write answers in response, until they get it the way the officer wants. In each of these cases, the police should be charged with Colorado Witness Tampering, C.R.S. 18-8-707.
The Simple Definition of Victim and Witness Tampering in Denver
The Denver and Adams County state statute on Victim and Witness Tampering, located at C.R.S. 18-8-707, provides, “a person commits tampering with a witness or victim if he intentionally attempts without bribery or threats to induce a witness or victim or a person he believes is to be called to testify as a witness or victim in any official proceeding or who may be called to testify as a witness to or victim of any crime to 1) testify falsely; or, 2) unlawfully withhold any testimony; or, 3) absent himself from any official proceeding to which he has been legally summoned; or, 4) avoid legal process summoning him to testify.”
Victim and Witness Tampering Examples in Jefferson County, Colorado
Examples of Victim / Witness Tampering in Jefferson and Boulder County include asking a witness to give a particular version of what happened in a crime (as in the police officers above), asking or pressuring a witness for a jury trial not to testify a certain way, suggesting that someone under a subpoena leave the State of Colorado, or suggesting someone hide out so he or she does not get served a subpoena to come to court.
While it is true that a person gets to testify as to what they think happened, third parties can’t make an effort to control what the alleged victim or witness is going to say. On some occasions, men and women defendants tell a family member or friend to leave the state so that they won’t need to come to court after receiving a subpoena. In several cases, we have seen social services or the Department of Human Services intervene and tell a woman that if she does not testify against her husband, they will take away her kids. It is much safer for a witness or victim to decide themselves whether they want to leave the state and for what purpose. As I said above, third party interference (from both sides) into the testimony or availability of a witness for trial is a problem for the integrity of the truth finding process of a criminal trial.
You should have no doubt that police, social services, DA’s and even victim’s advocates attempt to influence the testimony of witnesses. On the defense side, defendants, private investigators and family members sometimes intervene and suggest a certain version of what occurred. All of these people run the risk of being charged with the criminal offense of Witness Tampering.
If you have been called or visited by police, don’t give a statement concerning your conduct. Remain silent, despite the threats of police. Next, call our criminal defense lawyers at 303-731-0719 to fight for you. We understand Colorado law related to Witness Tampering, and will prepare a solid defense for you. Together, we can protect your future.