Two people have been convicted of witness tampering — among other charges — in a federal drug case. The 46-year-old Michigan man is now facing life in prison. His co-conspirator, a 45-year-old Illinois woman, is facing 20 years behind bars. A third co-conspirator previously entered a guilty plea in the case.
The Michigan man learned the name of the person who assisted investigators in his drug arrest. Enlisting the help of his associates, he managed to contact the witness and asked them not to testify against him. He also found ways to pass information about the witness along to others, including through the use of social media.
Witness tampering or intimidation is generally done to prevent victims, informants and others from giving honest testimony in court. Naturally, the state has a vested interest in stopping that from happening — so it’s punished very harshly. In a federal case like this one, a 20-year sentence can also come along with a $250,000 fine. If force is used, the prison term can be increased to 30 years.
Witness tampering can take many different forms, including things like:
- Threatening a witness, their family or their pets with physical harm
- Offering them a bribe to change their testimony
- Asking them to lie, destroy evidence or refuse to cooperate with an investigation
Any criminal case can go from bad to worse when witness tampering is involved. Witness intimidation can lead to enhanced penalties for the principals who are already facing charges for other crimes — and it can entangle their well-meaning friends and relatives with a lot of additional problems.
If you’ve been accused of witness tampering after you tried to help a friend avoid trouble, make sure that you get an experienced defense attorney on your side right away.