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Witness Tampering

Any attempt to interfere with or prevent the testimony of witnesses is often referred to as witness tampering or witness intimidation, and such conduct is prohibited in both criminal and civil cases. Tampering with a witness can result in either state or federal charges—both of which carry extremely serious penalties.

Because witness intimidation can have a profound impact on a criminal or civil case, prosecutors will aggressively seek maximum punishments for alleged offenders accused of such obstructions of justice. Prosecutors will closely monitor the activity and behavior of witnesses in criminal cases to ensure that there is no undue influence on their testimony, and they will immediately investigate any suspected intimidation or tampering.

Lawyer for Witness Tampering Arrests in Houston, TX

Do you think that you might be under investigation or were you already arrested for allegedly tampering with a witness in southeast Texas? Do not say anything to authorities until you have legal counsel. Contact Horak Law today.

Matt Horak is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Houston who defends clients accused of white collar crimes in communities all over Galveston County, Harris County, Liberty County, Montgomery County, Waller County, Brazoria County, and Fort Bend County. Call our firm at (713) 225-8000 or toll-free at (800) 225-8009 to have our lawyer provide a complete evaluation of your case during a initial consultation.


Overview of Witness Tampering in Harris County


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Witness Tampering Penalties in Texas

Texas Penal Code § 36.05 establishes that a person commits the criminal offense of tampering with a witness if, with intent to influence the witness, he or she offers, confers, or agrees to confer any benefit on a witness or prospective witness in an official proceeding, or he or she coerces a witness or a prospective witness in an official proceeding:

  • to testify falsely;
  • to withhold any testimony, information, document, or thing;
  • to elude legal process summoning him to testify or supply evidence;
  • to absent himself from an official proceeding to which he has been legally summoned; or
  • to abstain from, discontinue, or delay the prosecution of another.

A witness or prospective witness in an official proceeding also commits this offense if he or she knowingly solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept any benefit on the representation or understanding that he will do any of the things specified above.

Tampering with a witness is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000, although if the official proceeding is part of the prosecution of a criminal case, a tampering with a witness offense is the same category of offense as the most serious offense charged in that criminal case. If the most serious offense charged is a capital felony, tampering with a witness is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Cases involving family violence (domestic violence) are more complicated. Under Texas Penal Code § 36.05(e-1), if the underlying official proceeding involves family violence, tampering with a witness is the greater of a third-degree felony or the most serious offense charged in the criminal case.

If the underlying official proceeding involves family violence and it is shown at the trial of the offense that the alleged offender has previously been convicted of an offense involving family violence, tampering with a witness is the greater of a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 or the most serious offense charged in the criminal case. Texas Penal Code § 36.05(e-3) also states that a person is considered to coerce a witness or prospective witness if the person commits an act of family violence that is perpetrated, in part, with the intent to cause the witness's or prospective witness's unavailability or failure to comply.


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Federal Witness Tampering Penalties

Alleged tampering with witnesses in federal cases can result in federal charges. Under Title 18 U.S.C. § 1512(a)(1), it is illegal 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.

Title 18 U.S.C. § 1512(a)(2) makes it 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; 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; or 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;
  • 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 that person has been summoned by legal process.

The offenses listed above are punishable as follows:

  • The threat of 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/or a fine of up to $250,000;
  • Voluntary manslaughter — Up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000;
  • Murder in the second degree — Punishable by any term of years or for life; or
  • Murder in the first degree — Punishable by death or by imprisonment for life.

Under Title 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b), an alleged offender 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; 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; or 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.

Title 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c) also makes corruptly altering, destroying, mutilating, or concealing a record, document, or other object, or attempting to do so, with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding; or otherwise obstructing, influencing, or impeding any official proceeding, or attempting to do so punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000. Under Title 18 U.S.C. § 1512(d), 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 Texas

Victim/Witness | Harris County District Attorney's Office — The Victim/Witness Division of the Harris County District Attorney's Office provides information, assistance, and support to victims of crime in Harris County. Visit this website to learn more about services the Victim/Witness Division provides, crime victims' rights in Texas, and the rights of victim of sexual assault or abuse, stalking, or trafficking. You can also find answers to several frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Harris County District Attorney's Office
1201 Franklin St. #600
Houston, TX 77002
(713) 274-5800

Victim Witness Program | U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas (USAO-SDTX) | Department of Justice — The role of the Victim Witness Division is ensures that victims and witnesses of federal crimes are informed of their rights and receive the assistance and protection to which they are entitled under the law. The Victim Witness Division is comprised of a Victim Witness Coordinator in the Houston Office and Victim Witness Specialists in two of the branch offices. On this website, you can view the Justice for All Act and download a Crime Victims’ Right Act Complaint Form.

Victim Witness Coordinator
1000 Louisiana St.
Houston, Texas 77002
(713) 567-9335


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Horak Law | Houston Witness Tampering Defense Attorney

If you were arrested or believe that you could be under investigation for allegedly tampering with a witness in southeast Texas, it is in your best interest to seek legal representation as soon as possible. Horak Law represents individuals in communities all over the greater Harris County area, such as Pearland, Richmond-Rosenberg, Spring, Sugar Land, The Woodlands, Conroe, Galveston, Houston, League City, Missouri City, Pasadena, and many others.

Houston criminal defense lawyer Matt Horak is licensed in all state courts in Texas as well as the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. You can have our attorney review your case and answer all of your legal questions as soon as you call our firm at (713) 225-8000 or toll-free at (800) 225-8009 today or fill out an online contact form to receive a confidential consultation.


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Our Office in The Woodlands
1790 Hughes Landing Blvd #400 The Woodlands, TX 77380 (281) 907-4990
Our Office in Houston
5300 Memorial Dr #750 A Houston, TX 77007 (713) 225-8000
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Matt Horak Matt Horak is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 2014

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