Using False Testimony – Bribery Of A Witness – Penal Code Section 137 in Los Angeles
When it comes to bribing a witness, obviously this type of crime is going to be treated very seriously by the prosecutors and judges in whichever court you’re in Los Angeles County. Witnesses and testimony are part of the fabric of our criminal justice system, and anybody who interferes with this tampers with it or tries to alter it is going to be punished to the full extent of the law. Paying a witness in order to induce them to testify in your favor, or give false testimony is a crime and you could be facing custody time for this type of a violation.
The way I usually see something like this come up over the course of the last twenty-five years of practicing criminal defense is witnesses will actually admit on the witness stand that somebody tried to interfere with them, pay them, bribe them and if this occurs, then obviously the prosecutors are going to hear it. They’re the attorneys who work for the people of the State of California, and they will file a criminal charge, have the person arrested and make them post a bail in order to get out.
Another area where we see cases being filed regarding bribing a witness and use of Penal Code Section 137 is because the argument is inducing false testimony is when a witness in a case is contacted by either a defendant or the defendant’s family and that individual attempts to get them to change or give false testimony. At that point, a lot of times I see — and I see this in police reports while I’m reviewing the case — is that the witness will contact the police, the police will figure out who the investigating officer is on the case, and then that person will be contacted. They can then review the police reports to familiarize themselves with the case and then go and meet with this witness and find out exactly what was said, and exactly what inducement was made in order for that individual to give false testimony.
Defenses To Inducing False Testimony -Bribery of a Witness – Penal Code Section 137
A defense would obviously be you did not do what the person is saying. Sometimes it’s he said/she said situation in these inducing false testimony cases and one person is saying one thing, the defendant is saying no, I didn’t do that. From a defense standpoint, if we can get some sort of information or angle that shows that the witness that’s claiming this – whether it be the alleged victim in the case or some other witness – has some sort of an axe to grind against the defendant. That would certainly be the makings of a defense and we could show that this person is just saying this because they’re trying to get the person because they have issues with them or some sort of interest in the case – maybe they’re friends or family member of the alleged victim and they’re trying to get them in further trouble and basically get them taken into custody because of what they perceive was done to their friend or family member.
Most times, defenses in these inducing false testimony cases have to do with showing that there is a motive for the person ready to testify against a defendant to fabricate give false testimony and get the other person in trouble. Obviously, this is going to center around the facts and circumstances of the case. A prosecutor, judge or even a jury, if that’s necessary, is going to look at the totality of the circumstances and see if there really is evidence that there is false testimony being induced or is just somebody trying to get the person in further trouble. So, they’re going to look at the facts and circumstances of the case versus just a cookie-cutter approach where every single case should do a certain thing, they’re going to look and see what evidence the prosecutors have in deciding whether or not they’ve actually made a case for violation of Penal Code Section 137.
When I discuss inducing false testimony cases with either the family of the person in trouble, or the person in trouble themselves, I encourage them to be honest with me. Give me a good account and a good statement of exactly what happened. Why they think the other party was trying to induce false testimony, and obviously don’t put a spin on things. Don’t leave information out because that’s not going to help me. I need all the information in order to really make an informed decision as to whether or not we’re going to be able to defend this case, or this is a case we need to do a mitigation package and try to negotiate with the prosecutors. So, what I like to get done, at least in that first meeting, is to give you an idea of what you’re up against, what you’re facing, what you can do to help me and give you an idea of what I’m going to move forward to either get your case dismissed, or if that’s not possible based on the circumstances – I’m going to be talking about how we’re going to mitigate it, get a lesser charge, keep you out of custody, preserve your rights and set things up for the future so that you can have a clean record and you can move forward in a positive direction free of the criminal justice system.
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