Threatening Victims or Witnesses – California Penal Code PC 136.1 and PC 139

Posted by Raoul Severo | Dec 12, 2020 | 0 Comments

A case's success depends almost entirely on the verdict thrown unto the dependant. This results from the combination of all the different circumstances of the case. Because of that, the presence of fairness and truth is held with utmost sanctity. But, what happens if one party decides to corrupt that sanctity and tamper with the factors of the case. Justice will not be served. The most common corruption in court is done by threatening or dissuading the victims and/or witnesses to prevent the truth from winning. Doing so is a severe criminal violation under California Penal Codes PC 136.1 and PC 140.

Victims and Witnesses

Victims are people against whom a crime has been committed.While witnesses are any people who has been or is expected to testify for the prosecution, or who, by reason of having relevant information, is subject to call or likely to be called as a witness for the prosecution, whether or not any action or proceeding has yet been commenced.

California Penal Code PC 136.1

Subdivision A

Any person who does any of the following is guilty of a public offense and shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year or in the state prison:

Knowingly and maliciously prevents or dissuades any witness or victim from attending or giving testimony at any trial, proceeding, or inquiry authorized by law.

Knowingly and maliciously attempts to prevent or dissuade any witness or victim from attending or giving testimony at any trial, proceeding, or inquiry authorized by law.

Subdivision B

Making any report of that victimization to any peace officer or state or local law enforcement officer or probation or parole or correctional officer or prosecuting agency or to any judge.

Causing a complaint, indictment, information, probation or parole violation to be sought and prosecuted, and assisting in the prosecution thereof.

Arresting or causing or seeking the arrest of any person in connection with that victimization.

Subdivision C

Every person doing any of the acts described in subdivision (a) or (b) knowingly and maliciously under any one or more of the following circumstances, is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years under any of the following circumstances:

Where the act is accompanied by force or by an express or implied threat of force or violence, upon a witness or victim or any third person or the property of any victim, witness, or any third person.

Where the act is in furtherance of a conspiracy.

Where the act is committed by any person who has been convicted of any violation of this section, any predecessor law hereto or any federal statute or statute of any other state which, if the act prosecuted was committed in this state, would be a violation of this section.

California Penal Code PC 139

Any person who has been convicted of any felony offense who willfully and maliciously communicates to a witness to, or a victim of, the crime for which the person was convicted, a credible threat to use force or violence upon that person or that person's immediate family, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for two, three, or four years.

Any person who is subsequently convicted of making a credible threat shall be sentenced to consecutive terms of imprisonment as prescribed in Section 1170.13.

Credible Threat

A threat made with the intent and the apparent ability to carry out the threat so as to cause the target of the threat to reasonably fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her immediate family.

Legal Defense

When facing PC 136.1 and PC 139 allegations, here are some of the most common defense that a legal counsel frequently uses:

  • There were no victims or witnesses involved;
  • The defendant did not act with malice; or
  • The defendant was falsely accused.

No victims or witnesses – The defendant did not contact, or maliciously contact to be specific, the victims and/or the witnesses. PC 136.1 and PC 139 requires the defendant to personally, or under a representative, to contact and threaten the victims and/or witnesses.

No malice – The defendant might have contacted the victims and/or witnesses however the act was done without any semblance of malicious intent.

False accusations – The defendant was falsely accused of maliciously contacting the victims and/or witnesses.

Legal Support

Maliciously contacting by threatening or dissuading victims and/or witnesses is a serious criminal offense. Being charged with committing such a crime would mean facing severe consequences and punishments. That is why if you or anyone you know ever had the misfortune of being accused of such serious legal violations, it would be best to reach out to our roster of California criminal defense lawyers.


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