Harassing a Witness in Florida

If accused of Harassing a Witness, you need to know the:

Definition of Harassing a Witness

Under Florida Statute 914.22(3), the crime of Harassing a Witness, Victim, or Informant is committed when a person:

  1. Intentionally harasses another person; and
  2. Thereby hinders, delays, prevents, or dissuades any person from:
    1. Attending, testifying, or cooperating in an official proceeding or investigation;
    2. Reporting to a law enforcement officer or judge the commission of an offense or violation of a condition of probation, parole, or release pending a judicial proceeding;
    3. Arresting or seeking the arrest of another person in connection with an offense; or
    4. Causing a criminal prosecution, or a parole or probation revocation proceeding, to be sought or instituted, or from assisting in such prosecution or proceeding;

Penalties for Harassing a Witness

Harassing a Witness is a derivative crime, as the penalties are based upon the underlying crime being investigated. [1]

As such, the penalties are determined by whether the official event involved the investigation or prosecution of a:

Harassing a Witness in a Misdemeanor Investigation or Proceeding

The crime of Harassing a Witness in a Misdemeanor Investigation or Proceeding is classified as a First Degree Misdemeanor. If convicted of Harassing a Witness in a Misdemeanor Investigation or Proceeding, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Up to one (1) year in jail.
  • Up to one (1) year of probation.
  • Up to $1,000 in fines.

Harassing a Witness in a Third Degree Felony Investigation or Proceeding

The crime of Harassing a Witness in a Third Degree Felony Investigation or Proceeding is classified as a Third Degree Felony and is assigned a Level 4 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.

If convicted of Harassing a Witness in a Third Degree Felony Investigation or Proceeding, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Up to five (5) years in prison.
  • Up to five (5) years of probation.
  • Up to $5,000 in fines.

Harassing a Witness in a Second Degree Felony Investigation or Proceeding

The crime of Harassing a Witness in a Second Degree Felony Investigation or Proceeding is classified as a Second Degree Felony and is assigned a Level 4 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.

If convicted of Harassing a Witness in a Second Degree Felony Investigation or Proceeding, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Up to fifteen (15) years in prison.
  • Up to fifteen (15) years of probation.
  • Up to $10,000 in fines.

Harassing a Witness in a First Degree Felony Investigation or Proceeding

The crime of Harassing a Witness in a First Degree Felony Investigation or Proceeding is classified as a First Degree Felony and is assigned a Level 7 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.

If convicted of Harassing a Witness in a First Degree Felony Investigation or Proceeding, a judge is required to impose a minimum sentence of 34½ months in prison absent grounds to impose a downward departure sentence and can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Up to thirty (30) years in prison.
  • Up to thirty (30) years of probation.
  • Up to $10,000 in fines.

Harassing a Witness in a Capital or Life Felony Investigation or Proceeding

The crime of Harassing a Witness in a First Degree Felony Investigation or Proceeding is classified as a First Degree Felony and is assigned a Level 7 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.

If convicted of Harassing a Witness in a Capital or Life Felony Investigation or Proceeding, a judge is required to impose a minimum sentence of 34½ months in prison absent grounds to impose a downward departure sentence and can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Up to thirty (30) years in prison.
  • Up to thirty (30) years of probation.
  • Up to $10,000 in fines.

Defenses to Harassing a Witness

In addition to the pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal case, specific defenses to the crime of Harassing a Witness are:

Civil Investigation

A person does not commit the crime of Harassing a Witness if they retaliate against a person for initiating a civil or administrative investigation or proceeding, such as a disciplinary investigation being conducted by a school. [2]

Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby

If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of Harassing a Witness in Central Florida or the Greater Orlando area, contact Criminal Defense Lawyer today.

The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.

References

  1. Pickett v. State, 109 So. 3d 841, 844 (Fla. 3d DCA 2013)
  2. JLR v. State, 756 So. 2d 1088 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000)