Witness Tampering

Attempting to interfere with or prevent the testimony of a witness in a criminal or civil case is commonly referred to as witness tampering. Also known as witness intimidation or witness harassment, tampering with a witness can result in state or federal criminal charges.

Witness tampering or harassment crimes carry very serious penalties in Florida. It is important to understand that when a person is accused of one of these offenses, a prosecutor will be required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt (the highest possible criminal standard) that the alleged offender intended to influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding.

Attorney for Witness Tampering Arrests in Fort Lauderdale, FL

If you were arrested or think that you could be under investigation for allegedly tampering with a witness in South Florida, it is in your best interest to exercise your right to remain silent until you have legal representation.

Meltzer & Bell aggressively defends clients accused of obstructing justice in communities all over Broward County, such as Fort Lauderdale, Coral Springs, Miramar, Pembroke Pines, Plantation, Hollywood, Pompano Beach, Davie, and many others.

Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. Call (954) 745-7457 to have our attorneys review your case and discuss all of your legal options during a free, confidential consultation.


Broward County Witness Tampering Information Center


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Florida Witness Tampering Penalties

Florida Statute § 914.22 establishes the crimes of tampering with a witness, victim, or informant and harassing a witness, victim, or informant. Under Florida Statute § 914.22(1), a person commits the criminal offense of tampering with a witness, victim, or informant if he or she knowingly uses intimidation or physical force, or threatens another person, or attempts to do so, or engages in misleading conduct toward another person, or offers pecuniary benefit or gain to another person, with intent to cause or induce any person to:

  • Withhold testimony, or withhold a record, document, or other object, from an official investigation or official proceeding;
  • Alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal an object with intent to impair the integrity or availability of the object for use in an official investigation or official proceeding;
  • Evade legal process summoning that person to appear as a witness, or to produce a record, document, or other object, in an official investigation or an official proceeding;
  • Be absent from an official proceeding to which such person has been summoned by legal process;
  • Hinder, delay, or prevent the communication to a law enforcement officer or judge of information relating to the commission or possible commission of an offense or a violation of a condition of probation, parole, or release pending a judicial proceeding; or

Tampering offenses are graded as follows under Florida Statute § 914.22(2):

  • Third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 when the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a misdemeanor, the affected official investigation or official proceeding is indeterminable, or the affected official investigation or official proceeding involves a noncriminal investigation or proceeding;
  • Second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 when the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a third-degree felony;
  • First-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 when the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a second-degree felony;
  • First-degree felony punishable by life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 when the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a first-degree felony or a first-degree felony punishable by a term of years not exceeding life; and
  • Life felony punishable by life in prison and a fine of up to $15,000 when the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a life or capital felony.

Florida Statute § 914.22(3) states that an alleged offender commits the crime of harassing a witness, victim, or informant when he or she intentionally harasses another person and thereby hinders, delays, prevents, or dissuades any person from:

  • Attending or testifying in an official proceeding or cooperating in an official investigation;
  • Reporting to a law enforcement officer or judge the commission or possible commission of an offense or a violation of a condition of probation, parole, or release pending a judicial proceeding;
  • Arresting or seeking the arrest of another person in connection with an offense; or
  • Causing a criminal prosecution, or a parole or probation revocation proceeding, to be sought or instituted, or from assisting in such prosecution or proceeding.

Witness harassment crimes are graded as follows under Florida Statute § 914.22(4):

  • First-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 when the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a misdemeanor;
  • Third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 when the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a third-degree felony, the affected official investigation or official proceeding is indeterminable, or the affected official investigation or official proceeding involves a noncriminal investigation or proceeding;
  • Second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 when the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a second-degree felony;
  • First-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 when the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a first-degree felony; and
  • First-degree felony punishable by life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 when the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a first-degree felony punishable by a term of years not exceeding life or a prosecution of a life or capital felony.

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Federal Witness Tampering Penalties

Federal tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant offenses are established under Title 18 U.S.C. § 1512. Title 18 U.S.C. § 1512(a)(1) makes it a crime for a person to kill or attempt to kill another person, with intent to:

  • prevent the attendance or testimony of any person in an official proceeding;
  • prevent the production of a record, document, or other object, in an official proceeding; or
  • prevent the communication by any person to a law enforcement officer or judge of the United States of information relating to the commission or possible commission of a Federal offense or a violation of conditions of probation, parole, or release pending judicial proceedings.

Under Title 18 U.S.C. § 1512(a)(2), it is also a criminal offense for a person to use physical force or the threat of physical force against any person, or attempt to do so, with intent to:

  • influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding;
  • cause or induce any person to withhold testimony, or withhold a record, document, or other object, from an official proceeding; alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal an object with intent to impair the integrity or availability of the object for use in an official proceeding;
  • cause or induce any person to devade legal process summoning that person to appear as a witness, or to produce a record, document, or other object, in an official proceeding; or be absent from an official proceeding to which that person has been summoned by legal process; or
  • hinder, delay, or prevent the communication to a law enforcement officer or judge of the United States of information relating to the commission or possible commission of a Federal offense or a violation of conditions of probation, supervised release, parole, or release pending judicial proceedings.

Title 18 U.S.C. § 1512(a)(1) and Title 18 U.S.C. § 1512(a)(2) violations are punishable as follows:

  • Threat or use of physical force against any person — Up to 20 years in prison;
  • Attempted murder or the use or attempted use of physical force against any person — Up to 30 years in prison;
  • Involuntary manslaughter — Up to eight years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000;
  • Voluntary manslaughter — Up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000;
  • Murder in the second degree — Punishable by any term of years or life in prison; or
  • Murder in the first degree — Punishable by death or life in prison.

Title 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b) also establishes that a person can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000 if he or she knowingly uses intimidation, threatens, or corruptly persuades another person, or attempts to do so, or engages in misleading conduct toward another person, with intent to:

  • influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding;
  • cause or induce any person to withhold testimony, or withhold a record, document, or other object, from an official proceeding; alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal an object with intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding;
  • evade legal process summoning that person to appear as a witness, or to produce a record, document, or other object, in an official proceeding; or be absent from an official proceeding to which such person has been summoned by legal process; or
  • hinder, delay, or prevent the communication to a law enforcement officer or judge of the United States of information relating to the commission or possible commission of a Federal offense or a violation of conditions of probation, supervised release, parole, or release pending judicial proceedings.

Under Title 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c), a person can also be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000 if he or she also corruptly:

  • alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record, document, or other object, or attempts to do so, with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding; or
  • otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so.

Title 18 U.S.C. § 1512(d) states that an alleged offender can be sentenced to up to three years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000 if he or she intentionally harasses another person and thereby hinders, delays, prevents, or dissuades any person from:

  • attending or testifying in an official proceeding;
  • reporting to a law enforcement officer or judge of the United States the commission or possible commission of a Federal offense or a violation of conditions of probation, supervised release, parole, or release pending judicial proceedings;
  • arresting or seeking the arrest of another person in connection with a Federal offense; or
  • causing a criminal prosecution, or a parole or probation revocation proceeding, to be sought or instituted, or assisting in such prosecution or proceeding;
  • or attempts to do so.

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Witness Tampering Resources in Florida

Witnesses and Victims | State Attorney — Visit this website to learn more about the specialized units in the State Attorney’s Office dedicated to assisting victims and witnesses of crimes. The Witness/Victim Liaison Unit assists in the event of scheduling conflicts during the duration of a case and also provides information regarding subpoenas. The Victim Advocate Unit provides support for victims of crimes and their families.

Broward County State Attorney
201 Southeast 6th Street, Suite 655
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301
(954) 831-6955

Victim Witness Assistance | U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida (USAO-SDFL) | Department of Justice — The purpose of the Victim Witness Assistance program is to enhance and protect the necessary role of crime victims and witnesses within the federal criminal justice process; to form partnerships with state and local communities to establish and provide important victim services and rights; and to assure our best efforts in affording victims the following rights pursuant to Title 18 of U.S. Code § 3771. On this website, you can learn more about the rights of crime victims. You can also find information about additional services that are provided by the USAO-SDFL.

U.S. Attorney’s Office
500 E. Broward Blvd.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33394
(954) 356-7255


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Find a Witness Tampering Defense Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, FL

Do you believe that you might be under investigation or were you already arrested for allegedly tampering with or harassing a witness in Broward County? Do not say anything to authorities without first contacting Meltzer & Bell.

Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell are experienced criminal defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale who represent individuals in Sunrise, Hallandale Beach, Deerfield Beach, Margate, Wilton Manors, Weston, Coconut Creek, Tamarac, and several other nearby areas of South Florida.

You can have our lawyers provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case when you call (954) 745-7457 or complete an online contact form to receive a free initial consultation.



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