What Is Retaliation Against a Witness?

Being accused of and charged with a crime can be frightening. The criminal justice system often seems to be built against the defendant even though they are innocent until proven guilty. Because you could be convicted of a crime you didn't commit and face severe penalties, you might feel that the unfounded allegations should be dealt with and the alleged victim or witnesses should recant their statements and have the charges dropped.

You might try talking to the victim or witness to make them see your side of the story and show how the events were misconstrued. But doing this may not only have little effect on how your case proceeds but may also result in additional criminal charges.

The State Decides Whether or Not to Pursue a Case

Many people believe that because the alleged victim or a witness made the report, they can take back their story and the criminal charges will be dropped. However, this is not the case.

In any criminal matter, a prosecuting attorney working on behalf of the state of Texas will handle the case. After a victim or witness makes a report, it gets forwarded to the prosecutor. They review the information and decide whether enough evidence exists to charge the alleged offender.

Thus, because it is the state that actually pursues the matter, only the state can drop the charges. If you try talking a witness out of reporting an alleged offense or testifying at trial, it won't stop the state from prosecuting you. The prosecutor's case might be weakened if the alleged victim or witness recants, but they will consider the totality of the evidence before deciding how to proceed.

Facing Retaliation Charges

Talking to a witness to try to stop them from reporting or testifying might also result in your being charged with retaliation. Texas Penal Code 36.06 states that anyone who engages or attempts to engage in such conduct may be charged with a third-degree felony, which is punishable by between 2 and 10 years' imprisonment. It may also result in a fine of up to $10,000.

In some cases, such as when the person retaliated against was a juror, the charge elevates to a second-degree felony. The conviction penalties for this offense include up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Under the retaliation statute, for your actions to be considered a crime, you must have intentionally harmed or threatened to harm the witness.

Speak with a Lawyer About Your Case

Rather than attempting to take your criminal matter into your own hands to try to prevent your case from moving forward, consult with a defense attorney. They can discuss legal options for how to proceed and can work hard for a favorable outcome, such as getting charges reduced or dropped, thereby minimizing potential conviction penalties.

Charged with a crime in San Antonio? Contact LaHood Norton Law Group at (210) 801-9400 to get over 70 years of combined experience on your side.