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Intimindating a Witness


The crime of dissuading or intimidating a witness or victim is described by California Penal Code Section 136.1, and it is also often known as witness tampering and is occasionally related to domestic violence matters.

            The crime of witness intimidation is directed at defendants who attempt to:

  • Intimidate or coerce witnesses into failing to report a crime,
  • Failing to testify about the crime,
  • Failing to aid the prosecution process, or
  • Failing to aid in the arrest process.

The law that’s someone who knowingly and maliciously prevents or dissuades a witness or victim, or attempts to do so, from attending or giving testimony at any proceeding, or making a report that could lead to criminal action being taken, could be charged with this crime. You should understand that even a failed attempt at intimidation is an offense for which you can be convicted.


The prosecution team must prove the below factors showing the defendant acted with specific intent in order for a defendant to be convicted of Penal Code 136.1:

  • Defendant must knowingly and maliciously prevent or dissuade a witness or victim to a crime,
  • From attending or testifying at a judicial proceeding,
  • Reporting a crime to law enforcement
  • Assisting the prosecution in preparing their case, or
  • Assisting law enforcement in the apprehending of the suspect.

As stated above, even attempting to dissuade or intimidate a witness is enough to sustain a conviction under PC 136.1 Therefore, if the defendant is unsuccessful in their attempt to dissuade a witness or victim, they can still be charged with this crime.


Penal Code 136.1 one is defined as a “wobbler,” meaning the crime can be punished as a misdemeanor or a felony. The prosecution agency must look at many factors to decide how this crime should be charged, including:

  • The defendant’s prior criminal record,
  • The manner and means used in the alleged intimidation of the witness,
  • The effect of the conduct on the victim.

It should be understood that a felony charge is more likely to result when there is proof that the defendant:

  • Intimidated the witness by use of threats or violence
  • Was hired by someone else to commit the violation at part of a conspiracy, or
  • Has been previously convicted of intimidating a witness.

Since PC 136.1 is a wobbler, the penalties are specific to if the crime is charged as a misdemeanor or felony. The punishment for a misdemeanor PC 136.1 charge is up to 1 year in the county jail or a $1,000 fine, or both. However, the punishment for a felony PC 136.1 charge is two, three, or four years in the California state prison, a $10,000 fine, or both imprisonment and a fine.

Finally, if a defendant is convicted of PC 136.1, he or she must pay the victim restitution, and if granted probation, must complete all terms of probation ordered by the court including community service or labor, anger management, or others.


  • PC 137 – bribery of witness regarding testimony
  • PC 138 – bribery of witness regarding trial attendance
  • PC 236 – false imprisonment
  • PC 207 – kidnapping
  • PC 422 – criminal threats


Our experienced team of criminal defense attorneys is prepared to fight these charges with strategies such as:

  • Lack of intent
  • No maliciousness
  • False allegation

PC 136.1 is a crime which prosecution agencies take very seriously. If you, or someone you know, has been arrested for or charged with a PC 136.1 violation, please contact our office as soon as possible. It is possible our team of experienced criminal defense lawyers can use a prefiling motion to reduce or even drop your charges before court.

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