Interfering with Witnesses and Informants: The Consequences Are Real in Florida
Witnesses and informants can make or break criminal cases in Florida, and the authorities seek to protect these individuals in the most efficient way possible. Anyone who attempts to interfere with informants or witnesses faces serious consequences, and this is seen as an attack on the justice system itself. Recent cases in Florida highlight the consequences of interfering with witnesses or informants.
Man Gets 24 Years After Killing FBI Informant
On November 3rd of 2023, it was reported that a man from Fort Myers had been sentenced to 24 years in prison for killing an FBI informant. The defendant apparently learned that the victim was in fact an informant for the FBI, and at this point he hired someone to assassinate the victim. The killer for hire carried out the murder, and the crime subsequently led back to the defendant. All three individuals seem to have been members of a drug trafficking organization.
The official charge was “Tampering with an Informant by Killing,” which is a federal crime. This crime also applies to witnesses and victims of crimes. Although killing one of these individuals leads to the most serious consequences, you can also be charged under the general law of “Tampering with a Witness, Victim, or an Informant.” Under this statute, “tampering” may take many forms:
- Preventing the individual from attending court
- Preventing the individual from testifying
- Preventing the production of a court document
- Preventing the individual from communicating with law enforcement
- Using physical force or the threat of physical force in order to:
- Influence or delay the individual’s testimony
- Cause them to withhold testimony
- Alter or destroy evidence
- Evade legal process summoning
- Cause someone to be absent from a court proceeding
Three Indicted for Killing a Teen and Preventing Her from Testifying
On November 2nd, the Justice Department announced that three defendants had been indicted in connection to a “contract killing” that apparently prevented a teen girl from testifying. The deceased teen was set to provide witness testimony in her sexual assault trial, and the presumption is that this testimony would have led to the conviction of one of the defendants. Upon learning of the initial police report filed by this teen, the defendant paid two others to kill her. The murder was carried out in February of 2023.
After an investigation, all three defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit murder for hire, murder for hire, tampering with a witness, obstruction of justice, and a number of firearms offenses. The Justice Department notes that the defendants (and in some cases, their family members) made false statements, disposed of evidence, and tampered with witnesses during this investigation.
Where Can I Find a Qualified, Experienced Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale?
If you know that a witness or informant has the potential to testify or provide evidence against you, it may be tempting to take matters into your own hands. Resist this urge and instead speak with a qualified Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer. The sooner you consult with an experienced lawyer, the sooner you can get started with an effective defense strategy. Choose Haber Blank, LLP to discuss the most appropriate course of action.