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Intimidation

The crime of intimidation requires that someone willfully behave in a way which would cause a reasonable person to be afraid that they may be harmed.  Willfully means that the defendant behaved that way on purpose.  It is unnecessary to prove that the person was actually afraid, only that a reasonable person would have been afraid.  This particular crime is generally charged in connection with witnesses to a case.  As an example of a completed crime of intimidation, someone sends a letter to a witness to a crime saying if they show up to court, they are not going to be able to come home to their kids later.  The witness goes to court anyway thinking that it is an idle threat.  While the witness may not have been afraid of the threat, the threat itself is one a reasonable person would have been afraid of and therefore someone has committed witness intimidation.  

 

The behavior portion of intimidation is kept vague and many things can be interpreted as intimidation.  Pacing back and forth in front of someone‚Äôs house with a baseball bat can be taken as intimidation depending on the circumstances.  If you are waiting for a friend to go play softball, this is not considered intimidation.  If you are implying that the person inside the house will be beaten, it is considered intimidation.  The exact same action presented will depend on the back story between the two involved.  The ultimate decision would lie with the jury based on the facts presented.

 

Another form of intimidation is called criminal threats.  This can be charged as a completely separate crime from intimidation because it has an additional element.  The difference between criminal threats and intimidation is that in order to be convicted of criminal threats, it is required that the receiver of the threat actually be in fear of that threat.  Using the example from above, the defendant could not be convicted of criminal threats because the witness was not in sustained fear.

 

Elements, crimes and defenses vary from state to state and within the federal system.  If you or someone you know is charged with any crime, as always, you should consult a local attorney, licensed to practice in your jurisdiction and preferably one practicing only criminal law.  You can always look for your local criminal attorney at www.crimelawyers.org. 


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