Don’t Threaten a Witness

I have a client who is in jail for domestic violence 3rd degree. He beat up his girlfriend a couple of times and was incarcerated with a $5,000 cash surety bond. In other words, using a bail bondman, he could have paid about $500 to get out. This is a man who had several other convictions for domestic violence, which is why the bond was set so high.
When I first met him, I suggested he not contact his ex-girlfriend. Even when in jail, you can make phone calls, but be assured, these calls are recorded. And against all advice and common sense, he called is ex and said, “If you come to court, I will fucking kill you. And I will kill your mother. I know here you live.”

Not real smart. Initially he was facing a maximum 2 or 3 years in prison. Now he is facing 18 to 20 years in prison. Remember, if you are in jail there is no “expectation of privacy”, especially when they put a sticker on the phone informing you that the conversation may be recorded. And count on it, the call will be monitored.

Threatening or tampering with a witness is usually considered more grave than the initial charge. You are threatening the entire criminal justice system, and for that, the sanctions are even more severe. My client, who might have gone to prison for 3 or 4 years, will probably now go away for 20 or even 30 years.

Bottom line, watch you say, listen to your lawyer, and don’t threaten the person who is complaining against you. It usually (actually always) ends up making the situation worse.