Hurting a witness to prevent them from testifying is a felony in Nevada.
Intimidating a person from testifying in a case is illegal in Nevada. And if the defendant used physical force, the punishment may include prison. But a seasoned criminal defense attorney in Las Vegas may be able to get the charges knocked down to something minor or dropped completely.
This page contains information about the Nevada crime of preventing or dissuading a person from testifying or producing evidence. Continue reading for more information about the law, punishments, and defense strategies.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What does it mean to dissuade or intimidate a witness?
- 2. How do I fight NRS 199.230 charges?
- 3. Can I go to jail?
1. What does it mean to dissuade or intimidate a witness?
The legal definition of “preventing or dissuading a person from testifying or producing evidence” in Las Vegas, Nevada, has two central elements:
- You act with an intent to obstruct the course of justice; and
- You use persuasion, force, threat, intimidation or deception either to:
- prevent (or attempt to prevent) another person from appearing before any court (or person authorized to subpoena witnesses) as a witness in any action, investigation or other official proceeding; or
- cause or induce another person to be absent from a legal proceeding or evade the process which requires the person to appear as a witness to testify or produce a record, document or other object.
In other words, it is unlawful to bully or deceive a potential witness into not testifying at a case or offering evidence.
It is irrelevant whether your actions end up having no effect on the outcome of the case. Simply the action of intimidating a witness is criminal in Nevada.1
2. How do I fight NRS 199.230 charges?
The Nevada Supreme Court has never published an opinion interpreting NRS 199.230. This actually works in your favor because it allows us to try creative and “out-of-the-box” strategies depending on the specific facts of the case. Two possible ones are:
- You had no intent to obstruct justice. As long as the prosecution cannot show beyond a reasonable doubt that you meant to deprive the court of a potential witness or evidence, charges should not stand.
- You were wrongly accused. Perhaps the alleged victim in this case was subpoenaed but did not want to testify, so they falsely claimed that you scared them into not testifying so they would not have to take the blame. If we can make a convincing argument for this scenario, the case may be dismissed.
Note that it is not a defense to show that the victim in this case would have chosen to remain off the witness stand and withhold evidence whether or not you threatened them. The outcome of a case is immaterial – only your actions and your intent to obstruct justice matter.
3. Can I go to jail?
Nevada’s punishment for preventing a witness from testifying or offering evidence depends on the severity of your conduct.
If you used no physical force nor the immediate threat of physical force, violating NRS 199.230 is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada. The sentence includes:
- up to 364 days in a county jail such as the Clark County Detention Center, and/or
- up to $2,000 in fines.
If you did use physical force or the immediate threat of physical force, then you face charges for a category D felony. The sentence carries:
- 1 to 4 years in Nevada State Prison, and
- up to $5,000 in fines.2