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 class 4 felony. However, if the witness is intimidated by the use of a deadly weapon, intimidation is a class 3 felony.
The crime is also referred to as "dissuading a witness" and "witness tampering."
In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:
- 1. What is intimidating a witness?
- 2. What are the penalties for intimidating a witness?
- 3. What is aggravated intimidation of a witness?
- 4. What are the penalties for aggravated intimidation of a witness?
- 5. Related Offenses
Intimidating a witness (witness tampering) involves using threats, harassment, or act of harm or injury upon a witness or victim of a crime to influence their decision. This includes influencing the witness or victim to:
- Testify falsely;
- Unlawfully withhold any testimony; or
- Be absent from an official proceeding.
Intimidation can be directed at the victim, witness, family member of the witness' or victims' family, or person in a close relationship with the victim or witness. Dissuading a witness also includes inflicting or attempting to inflict any harm or injury prior to testimony or expected testimony.1
A “victim” means any person against whom any crime has been perpetrated or attempted. This could include a victim who suffered a physical injury from an assault, drunk driving accident, or sexual assault. It may also include victims of property crime, such as robbery victims, victims of fraud. It may also include state and federal crimes.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
“Harassment” involves annoying or harmful touching, threatening words, or obscene gestures with the intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person. Harassment may include:
- Hitting, shoving, kicking, or touching
- Making obscene gestures
- Following someone in a public place
- Makes threats through the phone, computer, text, social media or electronic medium
- Makes repeated phone calls
- Makes repeated communications at inconvenient times that invade privacy
- Taunts, challenges, or insults another in a way to provoke a disorderly response.4
Intimidating a witness or victim is a class 4 felony in Colorado.5 The minimum penalty for a class 4 felony conviction for intimidating a witness is 2 years in prison and a fine of $2,000. The maximum penalty for intimidating 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.
Under C.R.S. 18-8-708, victims of intimidation or retaliation are eligible for damages suffered as the result of intimidation or retaliation. In a civil proceeding, victims who testify as a witness or victim, or members of their family, may recover for such injury or property damage. They may also be eligible to receive treble damages and attorney fees.
Intimidating a witness can become aggravated intimidation of a witness if, during the act of intimidating, he or she:
- Is armed with a deadly weapon with the intent, if resisted, to kill, maim, or wound the witness, victim, or any other person; or
- Knowingly wounds the person being intimidated or any other person with a deadly weapon; or
- By the use of force, threats, or intimidation with a deadly weapon knowingly puts the person being intimidated or any other person in fear of death or bodily injury.6
Even if the person is not armed with a deadly weapon, using an article in a manner that leads a reasonable person to believe it is a deadly weapon, or claiming to have a deadly weapon is prima facie evidence that the person is armed with a deadly weapon.
Aggravated intimidation of a witness or victim is a class 3 felony in Colorado.7 The minimum penalty for a class 3 felony conviction for aggravated intimidating a witness is 4 years in prison and a fine of $3,000. The maximum penalty for aggravated intimidation of a witness is 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000. In addition, there is a mandatory parole period of 5 years.
Offering money or another benefit to a witness or victim of a crime to influence their decisions is the Colorado crime of 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.
Tampering with a witness involves attempts to get a witness to withhold testimony, testify falsely, or be absent from an official proceeding. Tampering with a witness is a class 4 felony, with penalties including 2 to 6 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines.
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 involves offering or agreeing to offer money or any other benefit upon 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.
Call us for help...
If you have been accused of intimidating a witness or victim, please contact us at Colorado Legal Defense Group.
- C.R.S. 18-8-704
- C.R.S. 18-8-702(1)
- C.R.S. 18-8-702(2)
- C.R.S. 18-9-111
- C.R.S. 18-8-704(2)
- C.R.S. 18-8-705
- C.R.S. 18-8-705(3)