In Colorado, attempting to influence the decisions of a witness or victim is a criminal offense. Witness tampering is a class 4 felony. Penalties for witness tampering include up to 6 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines.
The law is found in the Colorado Revised Statute 18-8-707, which reads as follows:
(1) 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: (a) Testify falsely or unlawfully withhold any testimony; or (b) Absent himself from any official proceeding to which he has been legally summoned; or (c) Avoid legal process summoning him to testify. (2) Tampering with a witness or victim is a class 4 felony.
In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:
- 1. What is witness tampering?
- 2. Who are considered to be witnesses?
- 3. What are the penalties for witness tampering?
- 4. Related Offenses
1. What is witness tampering?
Witness tampering involves attempting to influence a witness or victim, or anyone who may be called to testify as a witness or victim. This includes influencing the witness or victim to:
- Testify falsely;
- Unlawfully withhold any testimony;
- Be absent from an official proceeding; or
- Avoid legal process summoning him or her to testify.
Witness tampering is different than bribing a witness or intimidating a witness. Intimidating a witness involves threats of property damage or violence. Bribing a witness involves offering money or anything of benefit to influence a witness. If an individual attempts to induce a witness or victim without threats or bribery, they may guilty of witness tampering.1
2. Who are considered to be witnesses?
Under C.R.S. 18-8-707, tampering is a criminal violation against a victim or a witness to a crime. A “victim” is any person against whom any crime has been perpetrated or attempted.2
A “witness” is any person who:
- Has knowledge of facts relating to a crime;
- Has made a declaration under oath for evidence;
- Reported any crime to a police officer, correctional officer, or judicial officer;
- Has been served a subpoena by the court; or
- Who would be reasonably believed to be any of the above. 3
3. What are the penalties for witness tampering?
Tampering with a witness or victim is a class 4 felony in Colorado.4 The minimum penalty for a class 4 felony conviction for tampering with a witness is 2 years in prison and a fine of $2,000. The maximum penalty for tampering with a witness or victim is 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. In addition, there is a mandatory parole period of 3 years.
4. Related Offenses
Bribing a Witness C.R.S. 18-8-703
In Colorado, offering money or another benefit to a witness or victim of a crime to influence their decisions is bribing a witness. Bribing a witness is a felony. The penalties for bribery of a witness or victim includes up to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.
Intimidating a Witness C.R.S. 18-8-704
In Colorado, making threats against a witness or victim of a crime in order to influence their decisions is a criminal offense. Intimidating a witness is a felony, with increased felonies if the witness is intimidated by the use of a deadly weapon. See our related article on aggravated intimidation of a witness or victim (CRS 18-8-705).
Retaliation Against a Witness C.R.S. 18-8-706
Retaliation against a witness or victim involves retaliating against a victim or witness through harassment or using threats of harm, injury or property damage. Retaliation against a witness is a class 3 felony, with penalties including 4 to 12 years in prison and up to $750,000 in fines.
Bribing a Juror C.R.S. 18-8-606
Bribing a juror involves offering or agreeing to offer money or any other benefit to a juror to influence the juror’s vote or opinion. Bribing a juror is a class 4 felony, with penalties including 2 to 6 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines.
- C.R.S. 18-8-707
- C.R.S. 18-8-702(1)
- C.R.S. 18-8-702(2)
- C.R.S. 18-8-707(2)