Intimidating a Witness in Colorado – 18-8-704

A classic trope from any gangster or western movie is the bad guys showing up the night before a big trial and threatening a witness or a member of their family, in order to get the witness not to testify — and in the movies, the bad guys are often successful. However, in real life and in Colorado, the crime of Intimidating a Witness is a serious felony offense.

The statute, or law, prohibits people from using threats, harassing or “any act of harm or injury” against anyone who is in one of the following groups:

  • A witness to a criminal proceeding;
  • A witness to a civil proceeding;
  • A victim of a crime, a person he or she believes has been or is to be called or who would have been called to testify as a witness in any criminal or civil proceeding;
  • A member of a witness’ family;
  • A member of a victim’s family;
  • A person in close relationship to the witness or victim;
  • A person residing in the same household with the witness or victim; or
  • Any other person who has reported a crime or who may be called to testify as a witness to or victim of any crime.

But in order to be convicted of this offense, the Prosecutor would need to show that you not only, threatened, harassed, or used an “act or harm or injury” against one of these groups, but it would also need to be shown that you did this in an attempt to do one of the following:

  • Influence the witness or victim to testify falsely or unlawfully withhold any testimony;
  • Induce the witness or victim to avoid legal process summoning him to testify;
  • Induce the witness or victim to absent himself or herself from an official proceeding; or
  • Inflict such harm or injury prior to such testimony or expected testimony.

Under the 1977 Colorado case, People v. Proctor, 194 Colo. 172 (1977), all that is necessary for this crime is to presently attempt, by threat of harm or injury, to influence someone to withhold testimony at a future time. Other Colorado cases also explain or flush out, the different elements that must be proven under this charge. An understanding of this case law is essential to defending a charge for intimidation.

As a class 4 felony, a conviction for this offense is punishable by up to 6 years and/or $500,000 in fines.

There are many different ways to defend against this charge. A knowledgeable and experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney will be able to identify the potential weaknesses in your case and the potentially applicable defenses. Contact the Law Office of Jacob E. Martinez in order to set up a free consultation with one of our attorneys.