When should a defendant talk to a victim? Is it ever a good idea? If you find yourself facing charges, you need an advocate on your side to help you protect your best interests.
If you are charged with a crime in Houston, you might feel as though the whole situation is a misunderstanding. In fact, talking to your alleged victim could clear the whole thing up, right? However, you aren’t really sure how to proceed.
Does Texas law even allow communication between an alleged victim and a defendant?
Your Best Bet: Avoid Contact with Them
Often, criminal cases see a judge ordering the defendant to avoid all contact with an alleged victim. Generally, this applies to witnesses as well. In your arraignment, the judge may issue a no-contact order.
If the defendant fails to comply with this order, the judge can charge them with contempt of court. Alternatively, the judge might not set an order in place. In that instance, is it okay to speak with an alleged victim?
Even when there’s no court order, it’s a good idea to avoid all contact with an alleged victim or witness. Most criminal lawyers would have their clients stay quiet. Generally, this is good advice to follow.
Regardless of what you intend, anything you say or do is open to misinterpretation. Moreover, there’s potential for the prosecution to use it against you in court.
Witness Tampering Charges
Under Texas law, someone commits witness tampering when, intending to influence the witness, they confer or agree to offer a benefit to them in an official proceeding. Alternatively, they might coerce a witness in some way.
- Providing false testimony
- Withholding evidence, testimony, information, etc.
- Not showing up to an official proceeding after a legal summons
- Abstaining from, delaying, or discontinuing the prosecution
For these cases, a “witness” might include a victim, a witness of the crime, an expert providing testimony, or a character witness. In Texas, this is a third-degree felony.
Consequences of a conviction include 2-10 years in state jail as well as fines up to $10,000. If the case involves family violence, you can be charged with a second-degree felony, facing 2-20 years in state jail and fines up to $10,000.
In a Family Violence Case, Does It Make a Difference?
When your charges include family violence, talking to an alleged victim doesn’t change anything. Even when the victim changes their testimony or takes back their accusations, prosecutors in Texas won’t drop the charges.
Unfortunately, many victims change their stories due to fear of their abuser. Dropping the charges in such a situation leaves the victim in danger. As such, prosecutors may continue to pursue charges.
Your Attorney Is Your Advocate: Let Them Do the Talking
If you honestly believe that speaking with the alleged victim can change the outcome of the case, have your attorney reach out to the prosecution on your behalf. As your advocate, your attorney’s job is to speak for you and protect your best interests.
For example, offering a victim a cash payment may be seen as an attempt to bribe them. However, an offer of reasonable restitution for damages is not a bribe. So long as there’s negotiation with a state prosecutor, it’s all legal dealings.
Depending on the offense, this approach may reduce the charges or even see the prosecution dropping charges.
While the legal system is frustrating and confusing to those unfamiliar with the law, “common sense” actions can hurt your case. That is why it is crucial to follow the advice of your attorney.
Need an Advocate? Find Skilled Legal Representation
So, should a defendant talk to a victim? It’s probably not a good idea in the majority of cases. However, it’s possible to reach out through your attorney for an official negotiation or meeting.
A conviction, whether for a misdemeanor or felony charges, can have a major impact on your life. That’s why it is so important to have experienced legal representation on your side. Your attorney is your advocate, pursuing your best interests every step of the way.
Schedule a consultation with the criminal defense attorneys at Universal Law Group to learn more about your legal options.