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Intimidation of a Witness/Victim Charges

Witness intimidation growing issue in Milwaukee

If you read the news in Milwaukee, you’ve seen the countless stories over the past few years regarding the growing problem of witness intimidation.  Those stories have focused mainly on defendants who have tried to kill witnesses in their cases.  And although killing a witness is a rare event, witness intimidation charges aren’t.  Intimidation of a witness/victim can be confusing.  Importantly, one does not need to truly “intimidate” a witness in order to be charged.

Witness intimidation charges are serious.  Contact Meyer Van Severen if you’re facing this offense.  We believe it’s crucial that any individual facing criminal charges hires a top Wisconsin criminal defense attorney.


Intimidation of a witness/victim – Jury Instructions

There are two separate intimidation statutes – one related to witnesses and one related to victims.  Intimidation of a witness is found in Wis. Stat. Sec. 940.42 and 940.43.  Intimidation of a victim is found in section 940.44 and 940.45 of the Wisconsin Statutes.  Intimidating a victim occurs when the defendant:

  • knowingly and maliciously prevents or dissuades (or who attempts to so prevent or dissuade) another person who has been the victim of any crime from making any report of the victimization to any peace officer or law enforcement agency

Intimidation of a witness is basically the same as intimidation of a victim, except that it applies to any witness.


What does “knowingly and maliciously” mean?

Defined in Section 940.41, maliciously means “an intent to vex, annoy or injure in any way another person or to thwart or interfere in any manner with the orderly administration of justice.”  Prosecutors in Milwaukee have filed charges using the theory that any interference with the orderly administration of justice constitutes intimidation.


What’s their evidence?

In most scenarios, the state’s best evidence is through jail phone calls.  Remember: they’re all recorded.  So if a defendant calls a witness or alleged victim and discusses the trial or possible testimony, that conversation could qualify as intimidation.  Therefore, it is crucial to be aware that the state is always listening and their interpretation of your conversation could lead to new charges under one of these two laws.


Contact top Wisconsin criminal defense firm Meyer Van Severen, S.C.:

Charged with a crime?  By all means, contact Meyer Van Severen immediately.  Our law firm provides top-notch criminal defense representation throughout Wisconsin.  To be sure, our defense attorneys regularly work on intimidation cases.

To repeat, if your underlying case is a felony, you could be facing up to ten years in prison.  This is serious.

Attorney Ben Van Severen