As a Jacksonville Criminal Lawyer, almost all of my cases involve witnesses. In many cases, such as domestic battery cases or violent crimes in general, the witness is considered a victim. Usually, the victim of a crime is known by the defendant. They are a family member, love interest, friend, or acquaintance. Our clients often ask us about contacting the “victim” while the case is pending. Contacting any witness during a criminal prosecution can be dangerous and even unlawful.
In Florida, it is a crime to tamper with or harass a witness, victim, or informant. Any person, not just the defendant, who knowingly uses or attempts to use intimidation, physical force, bribes, or threats toward someone with the intent to cause the person to:
1. Withhold testimony from an official investigation or official proceeding;
2. Alter, destroy, change, or hide an object with the intent to hurt the integrity of the object for use in an official investigation or proceeding;
3. Hide from legal process summoning that person to appear in court as a witness;
4. Not come to an official proceeding when that person has been subpoenaed;
5. Testify untruthfully in an official investigation or an official proceeding.
If the official investigation or official proceeding involved is a misdemeanor in Florida, witness tampering is a third degree felony. If the official proceeding affected involves a third degree felony, witness tampering becomes a second degree felony. If the proceeding is a second degree felony, witness tampering becomes a first degree felony.