April 7, 2017

McCrory’s Bill to Crack Down on Witness Threatening Passes Judiciary Committee on Bipartisan, Unanimous Basis

A bill by newly elected State Senator Doug McCrory (D-Hartford, Bloomfield and Windsor) that creates a tough new penalty for physically threatening or harming a witness in a court trial passed the Judiciary Committee today on a bipartisan and unanimous vote of 41-0.

Sen. McCrory’s bill, Senate Bill 980, “An Act Concerning Tampering With a Witness,” makes it a Class B felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison to “physically harm or threaten to physically harm” a witness or a third person who is involved in a court proceeding. New, substitute language was just added to the bill and voted on today.

Sen. McCrory’s bill—if it is ultimately passed by both chambers of the General Assembly and signed into law by the governor—would put threatening or harming a witness on par with crimes like manslaughter, rape, burglary, robbery, money laundering, and human trafficking, which are already Class B felonies punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Currently in state law, it is already a Class C felony (punishable by up to 10 years in prison) to induce a witness to testify falsely, to withhold testimony, to elude the legal summons process, or to make a witness unavailable to testify in any proceeding.

Sen. McCrory said he submitted the legislation after a constituent of his was verbally threatened, and her grandson physically assaulted, after the grandson agreed to testify at a murder trial in Hartford.

“Maybe the increased penalty will stop people from threatening and harming witnesses,” Sen. McCrory said. “When good people make the decision that they want to do something about a crime, and work within the judicial system, and work to make their communities better, they shouldn’t be afraid to do that. Far too often it’s difficult enough to get people to come forward and testify about a crime that has torn apart a family or a neighborhood. I want them to have some confidence that they are not going to suffer if they do that.”

The bill now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.