Tampering With A Witness In The Second Degree: New York Penal Law 215.12

by ECL Writer
What Is A Criminal Complaint?

Witness tampering is a serious offense that can have severe consequences for both the accused and the victim. In the state of New York, witness tampering in the second degree is a crime that is punishable by law. Tampering with a witness in the second degree is defined under the New York Penal Law 215.12 as any action taken with the intent to influence a witness or potential witness to withhold, alter or provide false information to any person or entity involved in a legal investigation or proceeding. This can include bribery, threats, intimidation, and other coercive tactics that aim to interfere with the administration of justice. In this article, Eastcoastlaws.com will explore the various aspects of witness tampering in the second degree, including its legal definition, penalties, and examples of prohibited conduct.

Tampering with a Witness in the Second Degree, New York Penal Code 215.12, closely parallels Tampering with a Witness in the Third Degree, New York Penal Law 215.11, and “bump-ups” what is already a terrible felony to an even more serious crime. That is, regardless of where the act occurs in New York State, if you are finally found guilty of second-degree tampering, your sentencing judge may sentence you to a term of incarceration of up to seven years instead of up to four years in a New York State jail. More specifically, even if you have never had a run-in with the law, a court has the power to sentence you to up to two and third to seven years in prison.

The likelihood of incarceration and an irreparable criminal record ought to make it abundantly obvious. Even if the accusations against you are unjust, exaggerated, or wholly false, failing to hire the best criminal defense attorneys or criminal defense firm to represent your interests could result in a disastrous outcome that will follow you for the rest of your life if you are charged with or indicted by a grand jury for third-degree witness tampering.

 Understanding The Element Of NY Penal Law 215.12

Whether you are a criminal trial attorney with experience or an accused person with little knowledge of New York’s criminal justice system, one approach to look at NY Penal Law 215.12 is to see the crime as an amplified version of the minor charge of NY Penal Law 215.11. In contrast to Third Degree Witness Tampering, which only requires a threat of physical harm to keep a witness from testifying or attending a hearing, Second Degree Witness Tampering necessitates real physical harm to the witness.

Furthermore, you are not limited to trying to hinder the subject of your activities from testifying in court or appearing before a judge. The New York Penal Law instead lowers the bar for what you must do to break the law. That is, you have committed Tampering with a Witness in the Second Degree if you try to impede or delay that individual and as a result hurt them physically.

Remember that the legal threshold for physical injury is low, so as long as the complainant experienced significant pain, a punch to the gut, throwing down the target of your tampering and leaving him or her with “road rash,” or even pulling out a clump of hair, could satisfy the physical injury requirement.

Whatever your claimed behavior, be aware that there are significant distinctions in the potential punishment and sentencing between Third Degree Tampering with a Witness (NY PL 215.11) and Second Degree Tampering with a Witness (NY PL 215.12). A conviction for any Witness Tampering felony is crippling, complicating your life with the potential loss of your ability to work, jeopardizing your future owing to a compromised professional license, and threatening your right to remain in the United States as a foreign citizen.

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