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  • Writer's pictureBlair Goss

Is Intimidation Illegal in California?

Intimidation occurs when someone uses force or threats to stop or prevent a witness. In California, this is illegal and chargeable. There are various forms of intimidation in Los Angeles County that could result in fines or imprisonment. Let's take a closer look.


Is Intimidation Illegal in California?

Is Intimidation Illegal in California?


Intimidating a witness is a criminal offense in Los Angeles, California, and is covered under California Penal Code 136.1 PC. Specifically, it's illegal to maliciously and knowingly prevent a witness or victim from giving testimony at trial.


Under California law, whether the defendant was successful or not in preventing testimony is irrelevant. The mere attempt to stop a witness or victim from cooperating with a local law enforcement officer is enough for a criminal charge.


Likewise, it does not matter whether or not the alleged victim or witness actually was intimated or injured during the process. Overall, simply physically or verbally threatening a witness or victim via intimidation is illegal.


These criminal charges are often linked to domestic violence, stalking, and harassment cases.


What Is Considered Intimidation in California?


The following actions are all considered intimidation and domestic violence:

  • Screaming

  • Raising your voice

  • Yelling

  • Breaking or throwing things

  • Verbal communication

  • Physical harm

  • Harassment

  • Stalking

  • Cyberstalking

  • Domestic battery

  • Damaging a phone line

  • Threats to prevent or dissuade someone from providing testimony in court

  • Threats to prevent someone from going to a law enforcement official

  • Threats to prevent someone from filing a police report

Keep in mind that the above-mentioned forms of intimation also apply to partners, such as spouses, divorced spouses, boyfriends and girlfriends, etc. Therefore, intimidation charges can be filed against anyone who shares a household with another person.


Anyone who has been charged with a domestic violence or witness intimidation case in California should immediately seek the assistance of an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. A professional criminal lawyer in Sacramento CA will be able to review the case details and develop an effective legal strategy to prove their client's innocence. It's crucial not to make any statement to police officials during this time, as it will be used in the case.


Legal Penalties for Intimidation


Intimidating a witness or victim can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. Anyone facing a misdemeanor charge could potentially face up to one year in county jail or receive a maximum fine of $1,000. However, anyone facing a felony offense could face between two and four years in state prison and be subject to a fine of up to $10,000.


It is possible for an accused to dispute the intimidation claim. However, this is often challenging for a judge or jury to assess. Deciding who to believe is often very complex. Therefore, anyone who wants the best chance at proving their case should hire a professional lawyer with the necessary skills and experience who can present a persuasive case they can also help with questions like Can you threaten to sue someone California?


An intimidation charge can be extremely damaging to one's reputation and professional career. Hence, it's crucial to have a professional attorney who's willing to fight for their clients' rights.


When dealing with an intimation charge, it's essential to also consider a restraining order. Violating a restraining order is a contempt of court under Section 166 of the California Penal Code and can result in a fine and jail time.


Building a Legal Defense Against a Witness Intimidation Charge


When it comes to domestic violence, enraged spouses often accuse their partners falsely.


It is possible for verbal exchanges to become excessive in a marriage or other partnerships. Unfortunately, these disputes may intensify to the point where the police are called and criminal accusations are made.


False charges could be filed by the abused spouse in an effort to gain the upper hand in a child custody or domestic violence case.


It is usually easy for an alleged victim of domestic violence to get the accused abuser imprisoned because they usually say they were abused without any tangible evidence.


Fortunately, with the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, it's easier to prove there is insufficient evidence for a conviction.


Three of the common legal defenses used to raise a reasonable doubt are:


Falsely Accused:

False accusations are a legal issue that is commonly seen in domestic violence cases. This is often the case when a spouse says they were abused or that their partner threatened abuse when, in fact, they didn't. The defendant and their lawyer will have to prove that the defendant was wrongfully accused.


No Malice or Knowledge:

Remember that witness tampering is a criminal act with a particular intent. Thus, to be guilty, one's actions must be motivated by malice and knowledge. Therefore, the defense would be to prove that there was no intention of acting this way.


No Victim or Witness:

California law only convicts someone if they coerced or deceived a victim or witness. Consequently, an accused may attempt to clear themself by claiming that, even though the accused might have intimidated someone, that individual wasn't a victim or a witness to a crime. However, take note that, according to Penal Code 422 PC, this can still be another criminal offense: making criminal threats.



Expunging a Conviction

Expunging a Conviction


A witness intimidation convict can get their criminal record expunged if they:

  1. Complete probation; or

  2. Serve their jail term

While it's still possible to get a record expunged if a probation term is violated, this would have to be at the judge's discretion.


Contact an Experienced Attorney Today!


Anyone facing charges relating to criminal threats of intimation needs to hire a skilled and professional criminal defense attorney, as these are very serious allegations. A conviction of this nature will certainly impact one's life drastically. It's vital to take action and seek the assistance of an attorney straight away to ensure a positive outcome of a witness intimidation case in Los Angeles County. They can also answer questions such as Can you sue for emotional distress California?


At Goss Law in Sacramento, California, our skilled lawyers are ready to take the necessary action to ensure your legal rights are upheld. Our law firm has the experience and know-how to successfully defend clients against these cases, and our track record supports this. Contact us today for a free consultation!

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