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Why You Should NEVER Contact A Witness Or Victim In A Colorado Criminal Case

By Colorado Sex Crimes Criminal Defense Lawyer – Attorney – H. Michael Steinberg

Why You Should NEVER Contact A Witness Or Victim In A Colorado Criminal Case – The risks of doing so – and making a mistake – a threat – a bribe – a mistaken word – not intended to intimidate.. ALL can lead to the filing of one of the very serious felony crimes below.

NEVER Contact A Witness Or Victim In A Colorado Criminal Case

NEVER Contact A Witness Or Victim In A Colorado Criminal Case

The statutory scheme  is called the “Colorado Victim and Witness Protection Act of 1984”

First Some Important Definitions

18-8-702. Definitions

The definitions contained in sections 18-8-301, 18-8-501, and 18-8-601 are applicable to the provisions of this part 7, and in addition to those definitions:

(1) “Victim” means any natural person against whom any crime has been perpetrated or attempted, as crime is defined under the laws of this state or of the United States.

(2) “Witness” means any natural person:

(a) Having knowledge of the existence or nonexistence of facts relating to any crime;

(b) Whose declaration under oath is received or has been received as evidence for any purpose;

(c) Who has reported any crime to any peace officer, correctional officer, or judicial officer;

(d) Who has been served with a subpoena issued under the authority of any court in this state, of any other state, or of the United States; or

(e) Who would be believed by any reasonable person to be an individual described in paragraph (a), (b), (c), or (d) of this subsection (2).

NEVER Contact A Witness Or Victim In A Colorado Criminal Case –  18-8-703 – Bribery

In this felony – a person – who believes witness or victim will testify – offers something to that person – and that benefit can be minimal in nature- to try to influence the testimony: 

18-8-703. Bribing a witness or victim

(1) A person commits bribing a witness or victim if he or she offers, confers, or agrees to confer any benefit upon a witness, or a victim, or a person he or she believes is to be called to testify as a witness or victim in any official proceeding, or upon a member of the witness’ family, a member of the victim’s family, a person in close relationship to the witness or victim, or a person residing in the same household as the witness or victim with intent to:

(a) Influence the witness or victim to testify falsely or unlawfully withhold any testimony; or

(b) Induce the witness or victim to avoid legal process summoning him to testify; or

(c) Induce the witness or victim to absent himself or herself from an official proceeding.

(2) Bribing a witness or victim is a class 4 felony.

NEVER Contact A Witness Or Victim In A Colorado Criminal Case – 18-8-704 Witness Intimidation

Here – the inducement is more tangible – the intimidation can take the form of any threat, act of harassment  or act of harm or injury to any person or property directed to or committed upon a witness or a victim to any crime… read the language of this law closely – like bribery – it is very broad.

18-8-704. Intimidating a witness or victim

(1) A person commits intimidating a witness or victim if, by use of a threat, act of harassment as defined in section 18-9-111, or act of harm or injury to any person or property directed to or committed upon a witness or a victim to any 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 or a victim, a member of the witness’ family, a member of the 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 person who has reported a crime or who may be called to testify as a witness to or victim of any crime, he or she intentionally attempts to or does:

(a) Influence the witness or victim to testify falsely or unlawfully withhold any testimony; or

(b) Induce the witness or victim to avoid legal process summoning him to testify; or

(c) Induce the witness or victim to absent himself or herself from an official proceeding; or

(d) Inflict such harm or injury prior to such testimony or expected testimony.

(2) Intimidating a witness or victim is a class 4 felony.

Some Analysis Of Colorado’s Witness Intimidation Law:

First – all that is necessary to complete this crime is “to presently attempt, by threat of harm or injury, to influence someone to withhold testimony at a future time. ” The threat of future harm can be delivered before a subpoena arrives or after a subpoena arrives. But there is a requirement that the intimidated witness must have actually “witnessed something concerning which his testimony would be probative.”

NEVER Contact A Witness Or Victim In A Colorado Criminal Case 18-9-706 – Witness Retaliation

This felony follows in time – the actual testimony of the witness – victim – but unlike the others – this felony is “bumped up” to a class 3 felony – 12 year maximum sentence to prison.

18-8-706. Retaliation against a witness or victim

(1) An individual commits retaliation against a witness or victim if such person uses a threat, act of harassment as defined in section 18-9-111, or act of harm or injury upon any person or property, which action is directed to or committed upon a witness or a victim to any crime, an individual whom the person believes has been or would have been called to testify as a witness or victim, a member of the witness’ family, a member of the victim’s family, an individual in close relationship to the witness or victim, an individual residing in the same household with the witness or victim, as retaliation or retribution against such witness or victim.

(2) Retaliation against a witness or victim is a class 3 felony.

Some Analysis Of Colorado’s Witness Retaliation Law

Not freedom of speech – Threats to kill or injure a victim or witness in retaliation for the that witness’s testimony is not legally protected speech. The same is true for threats to injure a potential witness’s family, made with the intent of discouraging that testimony.

A threat is defined as a  statement of purpose or intent to cause injury or harm to the person, property, or rights of another by the commission of an unlawful act. The statement must be  viewed in the context in which it is spoken or written to determine whether it constitutes a true threat. Also a “true threat” is not just talk. It is evaluated by the finder of fact (the jury) in the context of whether those who hear or read the threat “reasonably consider that an actual threat has been made. “

The threat also need not be a direct threat and it can be a contingent or conditional threat if the contingency itself remains in the control of the person making the threat.

It must be a threat that is “directed” toward or made against a person protected by the statute, but there is no requirement that the threat must be directly communicated to or received by the protected person.

Finally – the law does not require proof that a defendant intentionally communicate the threat to the witness – but only that he made the threat with the specific intent to retaliate or to seek retribution for the witness’s involvement in the prior criminal proceedings.

NEVER Contact A Witness Or Victim In A Colorado Criminal Case – 18-9-706 – AGGRAVATED Witness Retaliation

A heightened from of witness retaliation – aggravated intimidation is a kind of threat is much more tangible – it is a threat involving serious physical violence.

18-8-705. Aggravated intimidation of a witness or victim

(1) A person who commits intimidating a witness or victim commits aggravated intimidation of a witness or victim if, during the act of intimidating, he:

(a) Is armed with a deadly weapon with the intent, if resisted, to kill, maim, or wound the person being intimidated or any other person; or

(b) Knowingly wounds the person being intimidated or any other person with a deadly weapon, or by the use of force, threats, or intimidation with a deadly weapon knowingly puts the person being intimidated or any other person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury.

(2) For purposes of subsection (1) of this section, possession of any article used or fashioned in a manner to lead any person reasonably to believe it to be a deadly weapon, or any verbal or other representation by the person that he is so armed, is prima facie evidence that the person is armed with a deadly weapon.

(3) Aggravated intimidation of a witness or victim is a class 3 felony.

NEVER Contact A Witness Or Victim In A Colorado Criminal Case – 18-8-707 – Tampering with a Witness or Victim

This is the catchall provision – which includes all forms of witness tampering that do NOT involve bribery or threats… it is a class 4 felony and the law reads as follows:

18-8-707 – Tampering with a witness or victim

(1) A person commits tampering with a witness or victim if he intentionally attempts without bribery or threats to induce a witness or victim or a person he believes is to be called to testify as a witness or victim in any official proceeding or who may be called to testify as a witness to or victim of any crime to:

(a) Testify falsely or unlawfully withhold any testimony; or

(b) Absent himself from any official proceeding to which he has been legally summoned; or

(c) Avoid legal process summoning him to testify.

(2) Tampering with a witness or victim is a class 4 felony.

NEVER Contact A Witness Or Victim In A Colorado Criminal Case – 18-9-706 – Civil Suit For Damages  

This final section exposes you to a civil suit for massive monetary damages – if you are found guilty of any of the actions above.

18-8-708. Suit for damages by victim of intimidation or retaliation

(1) The following persons are eligible for relief pursuant to this section:

(a) Any person who testifies as a witness or victim in any official proceeding;

(b) Any person who may be called to testify as a witness to or victim of any crime;

(c) Any person who is a member of the witness’ or victim’s family;

(d) Any person who is in a close relationship to the witness or victim;

(e) Any person who is residing in the same household with the witness or victim.

(2) Any person who is eligible pursuant to subsection (1) of this section who suffers any physical injury or property damage as the result of the commission of intimidating a witness or victim pursuant to section 18-8-704, aggravated intimidation of a witness or victim pursuant to section 18-8-705, or retaliation against a witness or victim pursuant to section 18-8-706 shall, in a civil proceeding to recover for such injury or property damage, be eligible for the award of treble damages and attorney fees.

(3) Nothing in this section shall limit the amount of recovery which a person specified in subsection (1) of this section may receive in a civil proceeding or in any other proceeding.

NEVER Contact A Witness Or Victim In A Colorado Criminal Case

Denver Colorado Sex Crimes Criminal Defense Lawyer

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: H. Michael Steinberg – Email The Author hmichaelsteinberg@hmichaelsteinberg.com or call his office at 303-627-7777 during business hours – or call his cell if you cannot wait and need his immediate assistance – 720-227-7777.

If you are charged with A Colorado crime or you have questions about bribery, witness intimidation or witness tampering crimes, please call our office. The Law Offices of H. Michael Steinberg, in Denver, Colorado, provide criminal defense clients with effective, efficient, intelligent and strong legal advocacy. We can educate you and help you navigate the stressful and complex legal process related to your criminal defense issue.

H. Michael Steinberg, is a Denver, Colorado criminal defense lawyer with over 30 years of day to day courtroom experience –  specializing in Colorado Criminal Law along the Front Range.  He will provide you with a free initial case consultation to evaluate your legal issues and to answer your questions with an honest assessment of your options.  Remember, it costs NOTHING to discuss your case.  So call now for an immediate free phone consultation.

Helping Clients To Make Informed Decisions In the Defense of Colorado Criminal Cases.

Contact A Lawyer with Three Decades of Experience as a Denver Criminal Attorney at The Steinberg Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm Today.

Colorado Defense Lawyer H. Michael Steinberg provides solid criminal defense for clients throughout the Front Range of Colorado – including the City and County courts of Adams County, Arapahoe County, City and County of Boulder, City and County of Broomfield, City and County of Denver, Douglas County, El Paso County – Colorado Springs, Gilpin County, Jefferson County, Larimer County, and Weld County,…. and all the other cities and counties of Colorado along the I-25 Corridor… on cases involving …NEVER Contact A Witness Or Victim In A Colorado Criminal Case.


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___________________________
H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
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