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NY Penal Law 215 Tampering with Witnesses and Jurors

In this post we’re going to pick apart the legalese of New York’s penal law in regards to tampering with witnesses and jurors in order to make the meaning of the law a little clearer for you. So first, let’s start with the charge of bribing a witness.

Bribing a witness.

You’re guilty of this charge when you confer some sort of benefit on a witness or someone who’s going to be called as a witness in an action or proceeding on an agreement or understanding that the witness’s testimony is going to be influenced, or the witness will avoid testifying. This is considered a class D felony.

Bribe receiving by a witness.

This is where a witness/someone who’s going to be called as a witness solicits or agrees to accept a benefit from someone else on agreement that their testimony will be influenced, or they’ll absent themselves from testifying. This charge is a class D felony.

Tampering with a witness in the fourth degree.

You’re guilty of this charge when you wrongfully induce or try to induce a witness from testifying, or knowingly make a false statement or practice fraud or deceit to affect the person’s testimony. This crime is punished as a class A misdemeanor.

Tampering with a witness in the third degree.

This charge is similar to the preceding, but with the addition that the person charged instills a fear in the witness that they or someone else will be harmed either if they don’t absent themselves from testimony or if they don’t falsely swear. This is a class E felony.

Tampering with a witness in the second degree.

As far as tampering with a witness in the second degree goes, this involves intentionally causing injury to someone in order to obstruct, delay, or prevent them from giving testimony, or if they assaulted someone for already having testified. This crime is a class D felony.

Tampering with a witness in the first degree.

For the final charge of tampering with a witness, this is when someone intentionally causes injury to someone to obstruct or impede them from giving testimony, or if they intentionally cause injury to someone after having testified. This is a class B felony.

Employer unlawfully penalizing witness or victim.

Anyone who’s the victim of an offense that an accusatory instrument is based on, or is subpoenaed to show up for a criminal proceeding as a witness, or who exercises their rights as a victim, and who notifies their employer of their intent to appear as a witness, to consult with the DA, or exercise their rights, van’t be subject to a penalty from their employer. On request of the employer, whoever sought out this person’s attendance has to provide verification of the employee’s service. An employer can withhold wages, though. Giving the witness some sort of penalty for not attending work is a class B misdemeanor. Also, just so you know, the term victim includes the aggrieved person as well as their next of kin if the aggrieved person is deceased.

Intimidating a victim or witness in the third degree.

To be guilty of this crime, you’ll have to wrongfully compel someone else to not communicate some sort of damning information in court by instilling a fear in them, or intentionally damage this person’s property to compel them to stop from relating the same information. This is a class E felony.

Intimidating a victim or witness in the second degree.

For the second degree of this crime, you’ll have to have intentionally caused injury to someone else to obstruct information or to get that person to swear falsely. This crime is a class D felony.

Intimidating a victim or witness in the first degree.

The final degree of this charge is applicable when you intentionally cause injury to someone else to compel the person to swear falsely. This charge is a class B felony.

Bribing a juror.

This charge happens when you confer a benefit on a juror on agreement that the juror’s vote will be influenced. This charge is a class D felony.

Bribe receiving by a juror.

Bribe receiving by a juror is when you solicit or accept a benefit from someone else on agreement or understanding that their vote or other action as a juror will be influenced. This crime is a class D felony.

Providing a juror with a gratuity.

This charge occurs when you confer or offer to confer to a jury member a benefit with the intent to reward them for their service. This crime is a class A misdemeanor.

Tampering with a juror in the second degree.

You’re guilty of this charge when you confer some kind of payment on a juror so that the juror or someone else supplies information, or, acting on behalf of a juror, you accept payment or benefit in consideration for supplying information. This crime is considered a class B misdemeanor.

Tampering with a juror in the first degree.

Now for tampering with a juror in the first degree, this is when you communicate with a juror except as authorized by law, and this is a class A misdemeanor.

Misconduct by a juror in the second degree.

Misconduct by a juror in the second degree is when you accept or agree to accept a payment or benefit for yourself or someone else in consideration for supplying information. This is considered a violation.

Misconduct by a juror in the first degree.

This charge is when a juror agrees to give a vote, opinion, or decision for or against a party to this action or proceeding. This is a class A misdemeanor.

Tampering with physical evidence; definitions of terms.

Now we move on to tampering with physical evidence. Before we get into the charges, though, let’s supply some definitions:

  • Physical evidence is any article, object, document, or anything else of physical substance that’s going to be used as evidence.
  • Official proceeding is any action or proceeding that’s conducted before a government agency.

Tampering with physical evidence.

Good. We’ve covered the definitions. Now let’s get into the charges. You’re guilty of tampering with physical evidence when you knowingly make or prepare false evidence, or produce or offer evidence at a proceeding knowing it’s false. This crime is a class E felony.

Compounding a crime.

You’re guilty of compounding a crime when you solicit, accept, or agree to accept a benefit on agreement that you won’t initiate prosecution for a crime, or you confer, offer, or agree to confer a benefit on someone else on agreement that the other person will not initiate prosecution for a crime. This crime is a class A misdemeanor.

Unlawful grand jury disclosure.

For unlawful grand jury disclosure, you’re guilty of this when you intentionally disclose to someone else the nature of a grand jury testimony. This is a class E felony.

Unlawful disclosure of an indictment.

You’re guilty of this when you intentionally disclose the fact that an indictment’s been found or filed before the accused is in custody. This is a class B misdemeanor.
So there you have it–a simple explanation for what goes into the charges of tampering with witnesses and jurors.

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