Thanks to the Constitution, it is the burden of the Commonwealth to prove the defendant acted “with the specific intent to impede, instruct, delay, or otherwise interfere with a criminal investigation.” What’s more, the prosecution must prove this .
While this may sound fair and legally sound, unfortunately, another portion of the statute makes this point almost moot.
The attempted persuasion may occur through direct or indirect (1) threats or attempts to cause physical, emotional, or economic injury or property damage; (2) offering, promising, or conveying a gift or anything of value; or (3) misleading, intimidating, or harassing the protected person.
To convict a person under this statute, the government must prove the following three things, each beyond a reasonable doubt: If the Commonwealth wants to prove that the defendant “harassed” another person, it must show that the defendant engaged in an act that was directed at a specific person or persons, and that (a) act seriously alarms or annoys that person or persons, and (b) would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress.
If the prosecution can prove the defendant acted “recklessly,” which means he or she acted in a way that a reasonably careful person would not, and their actions were clear to cause interference in a criminal investigation, then specific intent is not necessary to prove.
If you have been charged with intimidation of a witness, you may be somewhat confused and alarmed by the accusation.
What’s more, individual who attended or stated the intention to attend a court proceeding could fall under this statute.
Therefore, practically no one is excluded from being used as a tool for the prosecution’s war against a defendant in witness intimidation cases. The third and final parameter of evidence required is the motive of the defendant.
Meanwhile, the offense is a felony, and as a general rule, you should always make the Commonwealth prove its case when you are charged with a felony.
A true witness intimidation case is one where the defendant tells someone who knows something about a criminal offense that something bad is going to happen to them if they testify.
In true witness intimidation cases the first issue is identity -- can the police prove who it was that was responsible for the allegedly intimidating acts?
Proving a person's intent is a particularly difficult to do, and often requires that the Commonwealth rely on "circumstantial" evidence which is often open to competing interpretations.
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 268, Section 13B makes it a crime to willfully or recklessly engage in certain acts in an attempt to persuade certain persons who are connected to criminal proceedings, including witnesses, jurors, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and others.