Intimidating a witness
Digital witness intimidation has created new problems for law enforcement and for courts, experts say.“It used to be that the control of information in the criminal justice was an important way that we kept the system regular and safe, and now social media and the Internet have really destroyed the government’s ability to control information in cases.
The following month, in Philadelphia — where the District Attorney’s office says witness intimidation is at a “near epidemic” level — a 20-year-old man was sentenced to up to 23 months in prison for Facebook posts in which he threatened witnesses, including posts showing a witness’ statement and status updates that said “Kill all rats.” A Pottstown, Pa., woman is currently serving a two- to five-year sentence for using Facebook to intimidate a witness of an attempted murder by her boyfriend.Cook County’s ban excludes reporters, judges, law enforcement officers, jurors, domestic violence advocates and counselors, and those seeking an order of protection.Justice Department officials have also called in recent years for federal courts to make it harder for the public to access court documents online as witness intimidation on social media has become more prevalent, and as has outed more than 5,000 witnesses who cooperated with the government.It’s opened up all kinds of possibilities that are challenging the old rules of criminal justice and criminal procedure,” Natapoff said.Efforts to combat social media witness intimidation have increased around the nation in recent years, but more laws are likely, Natapoff said.Already, some courthouses have gone so far as to ban cellphones.
Cook County, Ill., where gang intimidation has been a persistent problem, passed a law banning mobile phones from their criminal courthouses this past April.
“Sometimes the companies are a little more flexible, if it appears to be an imminent danger or an imminent threat,” Shear said.
In general, however, social media platforms are still trying to figure out “how much they can balance protecting their users’ privacy vs. While social media poses great risks for witnesses, it can also be an opportunity for the criminal justice system, Natapoff said.
Intimidation or Intimidating a Witness or Victim, C. The Colorado legislature has made small conduct like calling someone a name or telling them, "I can't believe you called the police", chargeable as a class 4 felony. 18-9-111, to use obscene language toward a person with the intent to annoy them?
18-8-704, can occur unintentionally in Jefferson, Arapahoe and Douglas County.
(3) In proceedings for an offence under this section, proof to the satisfaction of the court or jury, as the case may be, that the accused did an act referred to in subsection (1)(a) shall be evidence that the act was done with the intention required by subsection (1)(b).