You’ve been arrested and charged with a crime in Houston. You know it’s all a big misunderstanding that could be cleared up if you just had a chance to talk to the alleged victim. Does Texas state law allow this?
It’s A Good Idea To Avoid Contact With A Victim
In a lot of criminal cases, a judge will order a defendant to avoid contact with the alleged victim as well as any witnesses. The no contact order is usually issued during the defendant’s arraignment. If you fail to comply with the judge’s order, you could be charged with contempt of court.
Even if the judge doesn’t order it, it’s still a good idea to avoid contact with a victim or witness.
“Keep your mouth shut.” That’s the advice most criminal defense lawyers give their clients after an arrest. It is good advice. Regardless of your intentions, anything you say or do can be misinterpreted and used against you in court.
You Could Be Charged With Witness Tampering
Under Texas law, a person commits the offense of witness tampering when, with intent to influence the witness, they offer, confer, or agree to confer any benefit on a witness or prospective witness in an official proceeding, or coerce a witness or a prospective witness in an official proceeding:
- To give false testimony;
- Withhold testimony, information, documents, etc.;
- To elude the legal process summoning them to testify or supply evidence;
- To absent themselves from an official proceeding to which they have been legally summoned; and/or
- To abstain from, discontinue, or delay the prosecution of another.
A “witness” can be a victim, an actual witness to the crime, a character witness, or even an expert giving testimony.
Tampering with a witness is a third-degree felony in Texas. If convicted, you could face 2 to 10 years in state jail and fines of up to $10,000. If your case involves family violence you could be charged with a second-degree felony. You could face 2 to 20 years in a state jail and fines of up to $10,000 if convicted.
It Won’t Make Any Difference In A Family Violence Case
If your charges involve family violence, it won’t change anything to talk to the alleged victim. Even if a victim changes their testimony and takes back their accusations, Texas prosecutors still won’t drop the charges. They do so because many victims change their testimony out of fear of their abuser. Dropping the charges could place the victim in danger of further abuse.
Let Your Lawyer Do The Talking
If you honestly believe it would change the outcome of your trial if you talk to the alleged victim in your case, ask your lawyer to speak with the prosecution instead. That’s their job. For instance, offering the victim cash under the table could be seen as attempting to bribe the victim. However, offering a victim reasonable restitution for the damages resulting from your alleged offense is not, as long as the agreement is negotiated with the assistance or acquiescence of an attorney for the state. Depending on the offense, this approach could result in the charges against you being reduced or even dropped.
The legal system can seem frustrating and confusing if you aren’t familiar with the law. What may seem like a good-sense course of action could end up hurting your case. That’s why it’s so important to heed your attorney’s advice.
Speak to a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Before You Speak To Anyone About Your Case
A conviction for misdemeanor or felony charges in Houston can change your life forever. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney willing to fight for your rights. You need to call the law offices of Houston criminal defense attorney Lisa Shapiro Strauss.
Lisa Shapiro Strauss is a former County DA turned criminal defense attorney. This gives her an edge other attorneys simply don’t possess. Lisa knows the tactics the state will use to get their conviction, which allows her to devise effective defense strategies against their charges. Her experienced representation often results in either reduced or dismissed charges for her clients.
Lisa represents clients throughout the Houston area, including Bellaire, Meyerland, the Galleria, Greenway, River Oaks, and West University Place. You can contact the law offices of Lisa Shapiro Strauss through our website, or call us at (713) 429-7310 to schedule a free initial confidential consultation with a leading Houston criminal defense attorney.