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Threatening or Intimidating a Witness

Threatening or intimidating a witness is an offence under section 322(a) of the Crimes Act 1900, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  1. You did or caused any injury or detriment to a person or threatened to do so, and
  2. You intended by doing so to influence a person called as a witness in judicial proceedings, or to be called as a witness in judicial proceedings to give false evidence, withhold true evidence, not attend the proceedings, or not produce anything in evidence under a summons or subpoena.

A ‘judicial proceeding’ is one in or before which a judicial tribunal can take evidence under oath.

A ‘judicial tribunal’ is any person, including a coroner or arbitrator, or any court or other body authorised by law or by the consent of the parties that may conduct a hearing to determine any matter or thing.

The maximum penalty increases to 14 years in prison where the prosecution is able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you intended by your conduct to procure the conviction or acquittal of any person for a serious indictable offence.

A ‘serious indictable offence’ is one that carries a maximum penalty of at least 5 years in prison.

Defences to the charge include:

  1. Duress, and
  2. Self defence, including the defence of another.

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