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Penalties for 'Retaliation' in Texas

Suppose a crime was committed. The victim spoke to the police, and now the perpetrator of the crime is threatening the witness to “drop charges.” In Texas, when somebody threatens a victim to drop charges, he or she is obstructing justice and may be found guilty of retaliation under Section 36.06 of the Texas Penal Code.

Whenever a victim is threatened by the accused, he or she is urged to contact the local law enforcement agency that is investigating the case. From there, the victim is supposed to report the threat so the authorities have it documented, and so they can take action so it won’t happen again. Additionally, threatened victims are directed to report the threat to the prosecutor on the case or to the Victim Witness Division.

Obstruction or Retaliation

Under Sec. 36.06 of the Texas Penal Code, one commits the offense of obstruction or retaliation when he or she intentionally threatens to harm a witness, public servant, informant, or prospective witness who has or intends to report a crime to the authorities.

For example, let’s say that a woman witnessed her two neighbors beat a man within an inch of his life. A day later, one of the perpetrators comes knocking on her door at 10:00 PM at night and threatens that if she were to tell the police that they committed the murder, they would hurt her children.

In this case, the man who came knocking on her door could be charged with obstruction or retaliation, which is a third degree felony, punishable by:

  • 2 to 10 years in prison
  • A fine not to exceed $10,000

Witness testimony can be critical in a criminal case, which is why it’s not uncommon for offenders to threaten witnesses and informants. However as mentioned above, threatening a witness can lead to up to 10 years in prison, even if the offender never meant to carry out the threat. To learn more, contact our Plano criminal defense firm today.