710-1071 Intimidating a witness. (1) A person commits the offense of intimidating a witness if he uses force upon or a threat directed to a witness or a person he believes is about to be called as a witness in any official proceeding, with intent to:

(a) Influence the testimony of that person;

(b) Induce that person to avoid legal process summoning him to testify; or

(c) Induce that person to absent himself from an official proceeding to which he has been legally summoned.

(2) "Threat" as used in this section means any threat proscribed by section 707-764(1).

(3) Intimidating a witness is a class C felony. [L 1972, c 9, pt of 1; am L 1980, c 267, 2]

 

COMMENTARY ON 710-1071

 

The potential for harm involved in witness intimidation is essentially similar to that involved in the offense of bribery of a witness, e.g., the undermining of the integrity of an extremely important part of the judicial process. The definition of the offense also parallels that of bribery of a witness, and the sanctions are identical. Note, however, that only the person who directs the force or threat against the witness is guilty of a crime. "Threat," as used in this section is any threat proscribed by the offense of criminal coercion under 707-724. To some extent, it would seem that the section on criminal coercion might suffice to deal with witness intimidation, but since the intimidation of a witness carries the additional harm of interfering with an official proceeding, it seems appropriate to impose a more severe sanction for the present offense.

Previous Hawaii law had no provisions dealing specifically with the offense of witness intimidation.

 

Case Notes

 

Terroristic threatening not a lesser included offense of intimidating a witness within the meaning of 701-109(4)(a); multiple conviction of terroristic threatening and intimidating a witness not barred by 701-109(4)(c). 75 H. 517, 865 P.2d 157 (1994).

Sufficient evidence that defendant directed threats to person whom defendant believed was about to be called as a witness where defendant phoned person soon after explicit warning from police officer that such conduct could be inferred as intimidating a witness. 82 H. 419 (App.), 922 P.2d 1032 (1996).

Sufficient evidence that defendant intended to influence person's testimony by making threatening statements during phone call. 82 H. 419 (App.), 922 P.2d 1032 (1996).

 

 

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