Witness Intimidation – Meeting the Challenge

Witness intimidation can hinder the investigation and prosecution of any criminal case, but it presents predictable challenges in certain categories of crime. Where the defendant has a pre-existing relationship with the victim, or in cases involving gangs or organized crime, the defendant often has the ability, directly or indirectly, to continue to inflict harm upon, or to exercise influence over, the victim or witness long after the precipitating criminal act. This monograph explores the form of witness intimidation, offers strategies to prevent and minimize its effects, suggests trial strategies for cases involving witness intimidation, including the use of forfeiture by wrongdoing as a means of admitting hearsay statements where a defendant has caused a witness’s unavailability for trial.