With an upcoming criminal trial that could put you in prison and destroy your business, you find yourself downtown and happen to run into your good friend, an accountant, who may be called to give potentially damaging testimony against you. You cordially greet him, offer to buy him lunch, and go to a nearby restaurant. There, while mentioning the extreme stress of the trial, you say that you and your wife and kids are going to Las Vegas for the weekend and invite the accountant and his wife along. The lunch ends and you go back to your office.
Two weeks later, police arrive at your office and arrest you for bribing a witness.
Bribing a witness is a serious offense and is usually a felony, meaning you face from two to four years in state prison. The offense includes offering or promising something of value to a witness with the intent to unlawfully persuade that person to not attend the trial. It makes no difference if the person accepted the offer or bribe.
The prosecution contends that you offered the Las Vegas trip with the corrupt purpose of persuading the accountant to not attend the trial. The District Attorney argues that the trip constitutes something of present or future value and was intended to wrongfully gain an advantage to yourself.
Facing a felony conviction means not only prison time, but once you serve your time, your chances of finding suitable employment, a place to live, gaining a professional license, and obtaining credit will be severely compromised.
Defenses to the Crime
The fact that you offered a trip to the accountant does not bode well for you, but you do have various defenses. For one, it appears that your friend may have been offered something by police or the District Attorney to entrap you or your friend misconstrued the nature of your offer.
The accountant may have misunderstood your intent when you offered the trip to Las Vegas. For instance, you and the accountant have been to Las Vegas on numerous past occasions together along with your wives and this was merely another trip together.
The idea of the Las Vegas trip did not originate with you but was suggested by the accountant who was wired. You really did not want to go anywhere but the accountant persuaded you and you offered to pay for the trip as a friendly gesture.
• Not a Material Witness
As it turns out, the accountant had little to no significant information about your activities and he has yet to be subpoenaed as a witness. Therefore, no bribery could take place.
- Lack of Corrupt Intent
The accountant is a friend and you were merely offering him a chance to get away with you to relax. Nothing was inferred or intended to persuade your friend to not attend the trial at the time you made the Las Vegas offer.
Do not take anything for granted if you have been charged with bribing a witness. Contact a local criminal defense lawyer for a consultation. Your freedom and future depend on the skills of an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney with a proven record of successfully defending clients involved in similar cases.